The team used a centrifuge to spin the dough and separate the liquid, then conducted their tests on the liquid. “We’ve got a lot of data to analyze,” Donohue said.
Sauerkraut: Food science major Hope Lent, a junior from Middleton, and environmental science major Sam Stinton, a senior from Minneapolis, made sauerkraut (cabbage and salt) and created four tests to study how varying the salt affects the fermentation process.
“The amount of salt doesn’t affect the amount of ethanol created but how fast. More salt speeds up the process,” said Lent, noting the process takes from three to six weeks.
Stinton and Lent were excited to learn how nutrient proportions affect the conversion to alcohol, as well as the being able to learn testing skills they can apply to their future careers.
Kimchi: Dietetics majors Devan Greene, a senior from Eden Prairie, Minn., and Alex Moe, a junior from Wilson, tested for pathogens in kimchi, a Korean food similar to sauerkraut using cabbage, spices and potentially other vegetables.
They found how varying inputs into their mix and changing temperatures impacted the fermentation and produced such things as lactic acid, acetic acid and dextrose.
Ale yeast: Dietetics majors Ella Gigstead, a junior from Albertville, Minn., and Nicole Demulling, a senior from Osceola, conducted tests on grains used to make ale. They tried sorghum flour, corn meal and wheat flour and learned that the grains all made ethanol.
Along with the high-performance liquid chromatography, they used a micropipette, a lab tool to measure tiny amounts of liquid, and Excel spreadsheets to help them analyze their data. “There’s a lot of science behind dietetics,” Gigstead said.
Mead: Applied science-biology concentration majors Ethan Kalin, a senior from Maplewood, Minn., and Marty Kiernan, a senior from Ashwaubenon, made mead, an ancient, fermented beverage with a base of honey, water and yeast, while adding apples. However, they experimented with how the size of the apple pieces affected the process.
“We wanted to see how it affected the ethanol content and the speed of fermentation,” Kalin said. “It doesn’t affect it much.
“There’s been a lot of data analysis, and learning the lab techniques using a sterile environment has been very good,” Kalin said.