Researchers in Ireland, having carefully observed the microbial populations in Kefir, now claim they have been able to successfully match-up individual species of bacteria with corresponding flavor compounds.
By tracking changes the microbes underwent during fermentation, the scientists were able to confirm these connections, though the precise nature of the relationship still remains a mystery.
One microbe, known to investigators only as Acetobacter pasteurianus, has now been confirmed to have significant ties to an acidic, vinegary flavor.
Another, who goes by the moniker Lb. kefiranofaciens, is now known to be associated with a slightly cheesy aftertaste. Other microbial species were also found colluding with unspecified groups of metabolites related to buttery and fruity flavors.
The investigation brings to light a new understanding of microbial evolution during fermentation that will allow them to customize the flavors of various fermented beverages including Beer, Kombucha, and Cider.
By studying the culture of Kefir, researchers also gain valuable insights into similar microbial communities that thrive in in the stomach and soil and Kefir, with its brief 24 hour fermentation period, provides them an ideal laboratory in which to study.