Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation in the world. In South America, most fermented beverages are nondairy products featuring several other food raw materials such as cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Generally, natural fermentations are carried out by yeast and lactic acid bacteria forming a complex microbiota that acts in cooperation. Yeast have a prominent role in the production of beverages, due to the ability to accumulate high levels of ethanol and to produce highly desirable aroma compounds, but lactic acid bacteria are particularly important in fermentation because they produce desirable acids, flavor compounds, and peptides that inhibit the growth of undesirable organisms. Among the South America beverages based on cereals and vegetables, the fermented beverages chicha, caxiri, cauim and champús, and cachaça, a fermented and distilled beverage, could be cited. Genetic and physiological analyses of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains isolated from cachaça have been shown to present interesting traits for beer production, such as flocculation and production of aroma compounds, fundamental to high-quality beer. The study of these traditional beverages allows the identification of new microorganism strains displaying enhanced resistance or new flavor and aroma profiles that could lead to applications in several industries and ultimately new products.
Part of the book: Food Production and Industry