Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) recently turned tofu whey into a tasty alcoholic beverage known as Sachi – not the same as Sake. Whey is the liquid byproduct of tofu manufacturing and is most often discarded once completed. But University student Mr. Chua Jian-Yong, who had worked on alcohol fermentation during his undergraduate studies, decided to take up the challenge of using the high levels of calcium and soy nutrients that were left over from the production of tofu. Remember, tofu is made from soybean milk that has been boiled, cooled and pressed into solid blocks. And during the pressing process to remove excess water, whey is produced. Interestingly, with all the health benefits of soy products along with stronger consumer feelings towards vegetarian diets, the production of tofu has been on the rise. So, finding ways to upcycle tofu whey with a new zero-waste solution, not only is sustainable but should generate economic returns for businesses and potential new markets for growers. It’s worth noting that the innovative fermentation technique also enriches the drink with isoflavones, which are antioxidants that have many health benefits. In the process of altering the composition of tofu whey, the biotransformation method will convert the strong beany odor into a fruity, sweet flavor. On top of that, the new product increased the shelf life of whey from one day to nearly four months for the Sachi. The team at NUS has filed a patent for the unique process of making Sachi and are looking for ways to market the beverage that has an alcoholic content of seven to eight percent. It seems more and more we are hearing about teams of researchers seeking to turn trash into treasure. As I understand it, Avinash Karpe, a chemist at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, is working on a technique to convert what would otherwise be garbage into biofuel. Using fungus, Karpe hopes to break the waste down into carbohydrates that can be fermented and made into usable products like ethanol. Also, In Italy, researchers at the University of Bologna are focusing on the waste from wine grapes. They are looking to create usable chemicals out of the leftovers, namely the skin and the seeds. The point is there are folks out there doing things that haven’t been done before. In my opinion, the reasons don’t matter, just that ideas are being generated and action is being taken. This is the same process I believe we as producers need to adopt as we look down the road and seek to keep our business activities relevant to future markets.(Source: Sciencedaily.com, Newsweek.com)
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