So, you’ve been wondering “what is cold fermented cane sugar?” Suddenly, the market seems flooded with alcohol companies marketing their beverages as having “cold-brewed sugar.”
But what does that even mean?
Well, let’s take a look at the fermentation process and sugar’s role in it first.
First, it is critical to understand that fermentation is a process that breaks down one substance to create another substance.
In almost all cases, fermentation refers to the conversion of some type of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide – alcoholic fermentation.
The only other type of fermentation is lactic acid fermentation, which occurs when bacteria break down a substance, like with yogurt or sauerkraut, or inside the human body, when a human is exerting themselves and runs out of breath. In this last case, the cells undergo lactic acid fermentation in order to provide more energy to the human.
In the case of alcoholic fermentation, which is what we are discussing here, sugar is the essential ingredient, beyond, of course, yeast.
Yeast is the instigator of fermentation. It is attracted to sugars in the environment naturally and feasts on them, converting them to alcohol and carbon dioxide, along with hundreds of other secondary metabolites.
Yeast has been doing this on its own for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years.
We discovered wine thanks to natural fermentation. Yeast in the environment was attracted to the naturally occurring sugars in grape juice.
After the agricultural revolution, which domesticated humans for the first time, we also discovered beer thanks to the naturally occurring sugars in toasted cereal grains made into liquid meals.
And native cultures around the world have been distilling fruit and root vegetable juices into liquors for medicinal purposes as far back as we can date their cultures.
All thanks to that single celled eukaryotic fungus, yeast.
Sugar in Fermentation
The nice thing, the fruitful thing for those in fermentation industries, is that it really does not matter much which sugar you use.
As we noted above, wine uses fructose, beer uses maltose, and ethanol made from corn uses glucose.
For yeast, sugar is sugar is sugar.
The fermentation process is as follows:
A sugary liquid is created – grapes are crushed for wine, toasted grain is ground for beer, corn is crushed for ethanol – and then yeast is added. Healthy yeast will get to work consuming all the sugars in the liquid it can find and converting those sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
What is interesting is that while sugar is a necessity for fermentation, alcohol is not the purpose of fermentation.
The purpose of fermentation is actually to produce energy. Yeast needs sugar to thrive. It can lie dormant for years without it, but it cannot reproduce.
It can be frozen.
But in order to thrive and reproduce, it needs sugar.
So, as it is fermenting, eating the sugar and spitting out alcohol and carbon dioxide as waste products, it is also reproducing asexually.
A mother yeast cell grows a daughter yeast cell from her own cell. The daughter yeast cell depends on the mother for energy and food until it is more than 50% in volume of the mother cell, at which point it can break off from the mother cell and consume sugar and reproduce on its own.
Yeast cells can reproduce numerous times in their lifetime.
And all it takes is sugar.
Now, while we typically think of the sugars – glucose, fructose, maltose – inside of fruits and grains and other foods that stir fermentation, there is a liquor made from the actual sugar crop – rum.
Indeed, one of the products of the triangle of trade during the age of exploration, when the colonists were settling in the Americas was rum.
The crop of sugar cane was brought to the Caribbean Islands from Oceania for propagation and export to the old world, but growers quickly discovered they could ferment sugar cane by running it through a mill several times as they ran water over it, creating a kind of rich sugar juice.
The thick viscous liquid that was leftover became black strap molasses, which, when mixed with granulated sugar, gave us brown sugar.
That sugar juice was then fermented, distilled, and mixed with spring water to create rum.
Rum became a major export from the Islands across the globe. It was also, unfortunately, one of the primary drivers of the slave trade.
What Is Cold Fermented Cane Sugar
Today, fermenters will take cane sugar and create a base for alcoholic beverages by simply fermenting cane sugar juice and concentrating it, much like barley malt base is created.
The difference between fermented cane sugar base and barley malt base is that sugar base is colorless, gluten free, low calorie, and flavor neutral.
For decades, distillers seeking an alcohol base to mix into beverages to market have had to rely on grain bases, which they cannot market as gluten free or low calorie, and they could not rely on to have a neutral flavor able to mix with virtually any other flavors.
Today, the solution comes in the form of this pre-rum kind of base.
The rise in popularity of sugar brews like the cane sugar base is obvious as gluten free products and low-calorie alcoholic beverages are the epitome of trending right now.
And a sugar brew might be highly appealing to a distillery seeking an alcohol base to mix with other ingredients.
But most purists crafting their own beverages – be they wine, beer, or liquor, are much more likely to be experimenting with their own alcoholic fermentation process.
Who knows? Maybe cane sugar will become part of that process soon.
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