Quantitative Analysis of Sugar: Monitoring the Fermentation Process with Spectrophotometry

Many food and beverage products such as beers, wines, and cultured dairy products utilize fermentation for quality and effectiveness in manufacturing. This process requires a quantitative analysis of the sugar content of a product to monitor fermentation, as well as the transition of these sugars to their fermented state. Spectrophotometers can provide this type of quantitative analysis while helping to maintain product consistency, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of developing a quality product.

yogurt quantitative analysis
Many cultured milk products such as cheese and yogurt depend on fermentation to develop quality foods. In turn, large scale manufacturers rely on spectral analysis to quantify sugar levels and to create consistent products.
Image source: Flickr user Larry Jacobsen

Using Spectrophotometers to Detect Chemical Changes

Spectrophotometers measure the intensity of light as it passes through a sample; these measurements provide a quantitative analysis of a substance in order to determine its chemical composition. Every chemical substance has a unique spectral fingerprint, which is measured using quantitative analysis and correlates to the amount of light that is absorbed, transmitted, or reflected at a specific wavelength through the sample.

Spectrophotometers are versatile in the sense that they can differentiate between various substances accurately; as a result, they have many possible applications. Quantitative analysis includes measuring the sugar concentration of a product during fermentation. As sugar is consumed during the fermentation process, the concentration of sugar fluctuates based on stage of fermentation. According to Science Direct online article Biomass and Bioenergy (Volume 35, Issue 7), consistent monitoring is “key to optimizing product formation and maintaining a healthy environment for microorganisms.” UV/VIS spectrophotometry provides an easy and effective method of monitoring this process quickly and provides real-time feedback regarding sugar content. It also monitors the changes that occur in the product on an ongoing basis.

fermentation gauge quantitative analysis
Fermentation is a complicated process, and traditional methods of monitoring fermentation do not provide accurate, real-time data that can help to alter the outcome of the product. Without spectral data, these methods result in product inconsistency and quality loss.
Image Source: Flickr user Jeff Alworth

Biomass Concentration Measurement and Xylose Determination

Biomass concentration is one of the most important measurement factors in fermentation studies. Traditional biomass concentration measurement consists of separating the viable and dead cells and counting them manually using a microscope and counting chamber. This method is time-consuming and relies on expensive laboratory equipment. Additionally, measurement readings taken by this method are often inaccurate or inconsistent. Therefore, optical density measurement is often the preferred method of quantitative analysis for monitoring the fermentation process.

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The determination of xylose, one of the main constituents of biomass, is of the utmost importance in monitoring fermentation. UV/VIS spectrophotometers can be used to develop a spectral fingerprint of this form of sugar, and this data can then be used to monitor the fermentation process at every stage of development. Spectrophotometers offer instantaneous, real-time data that can be used to streamline and fine tune the fermentation process and develop the most accurate and reliable method for each product application.

fermentation barrel quantitative analysis
There are various applications for fermentation in manufacturing and product development. Spectrophotometric analysis offers the best method for monitoring and evaluating this process to ensure consistency in product quality.
Image Source: Flickr user Allagash Brewing

UV/VIS Spectrophotometric Instrumentation

Spectrophotometers come in a variety of instrumentation designs; the high-quality models offer the most accurate and consistent data in quantitative analysis and are available for use in a variety of applications. At HunterLab, we offer high-quality products at an affordable price. With many instrumentation options available, we have a color measurement tool that will fit any budget. Understanding what instrumentation is best for your particular application can be a challenge, but at HunterLab, our friendly staff works with you. We will listen to the needs and challenges that you face and provide instrumentation options that are uniquely adaptable to a variety of applications and will cover numerous industry applications. For more information about quantitative analysis of the fermentation process or to learn more about options in spectrophotometric technology, contact HunterLab today.

  • Sophie huang

    HI, Ken Phillips, my name is Sophie, I am an application scientist in CHr Hansen in the US lab.
    I am very interested in your article, and would like to know more details how to monitor the fermentation process in time, how to test sugar in real time? etc by using UV-VIS.
    if you have this type of device and software package, could you let me know more details, you can reach me ussohu@chr-hansen.com
    thank you

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