A food technologist from the Philippines has combined durian and alcohol to create a probiotic concoction that’s easily healthier than your usual beer.
Kriza Faye Calumba, who hails from Davao province — home to many of the country’s durian products — says that the probiotic alcohol is the product of her thesis at Louisiana State University, where she obtained her master’s degree on a Fulbright scholarship.
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How she did it: Calumba worked with lactic acid bacteria for her undergraduate thesis at the University of the Philippines – Mindanao and applied the same bacteria as probiotics for her master’s research.
- Probiotics are live microorganisms that bring health benefits to the body. The most common ones are bacteria that belong to the groups Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- Calumba only used the rind of the durian and turned it into powder, working on the premise that it would protect the microorganisms necessary for brewing and fermentation.
- “I learned that the rind of durian has a property that helps preserve the bacteria even in the presence of alcohol,” she told the South China Morning Post. “I don’t even eat durian but I know that our province has a lot of durian by-products. This way, by incorporating my study with durian, there may be a future economic use for the tonnes of durian rinds our province produces.”
- Development took several months as Calumba and her team tried to achieve the perfect blend.
- “It probably took more than half a year for us to determine the right ingredient formulation, mixing the malt, water, hops and yeast, as well as brewing and fermentation processes to make the probiotic bacteria thrive in the beer,” Calumba told the Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP).
- The final product is not exactly durian-flavored but tastes almost like conventional beer.
Why it matters: Calumba’s success is a step forward in the development of alcoholic beverages that have actual health benefits.
- Probiotic beverages — such as the Japanese drink Yakult — have been scientifically proven to maintain gastrointestinal health and bring about other benefits.
- “Since alcoholic drinks have been linked to disruption of gut microbiota balance, beer with probiotics could be a therapeutic avenue,” she told PEP.
- Calumba’s unique drink will likely appeal to lactose-intolerant people since most probiotic drinks are dairy products.
- Because it contains durian rind powder, the healthy concoction may also help ease defecation.
- Calumba hopes her study would bring the possibility of probiotic beers closer to reality, though commercialization is expected to take more years of research.
- “The bacteria strain I used for my thesis came from the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] so if I do produce the probiotic-infused beer here [in the Philippines], it would be costly. I would want to study the possibility of creating it with wholly local ingredients first,” she told SCMP.
Calumba is an assistant professor of food science and technology at the University of the Philippines – Mindanao. In the meantime, she plans to open a probiotic yogurt milk tea shop in her home city.
Feature Images via Kriza Faye Calumba