The results of their experiments were published in the Ultrasonics Sonochemistry magazine.
Kefiran, the water-soluble polysaccharide in the kefir grain, has antimicrobial and healing properties and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels in blood serum. The anti-tumor effect and ability to increase immunity are also well-known. All this prompted researchers to try to increase the kefiran content in the consumer products.
"The main objective of our research was to step up the kefiran content in fermented milk drinks. To this end, we treated milk with ultrasound," said Prof. Irina Potoroko, head of the Food Technology and Biotechnology Department at SUSU School of Medicine Biology.
She noted that healthy dairy drinks are traditionally produced with milk and then with added fermentation starter. Kefir exopolysaccharide accumulates in the course of fermentation (resulting in kefir from milk).
The researchers have added milk sonication to the fermentation process. They say this results in faster kefiran buildup and increased kefiran content in the milk.
"The effects of sonication are interesting; it is not quite clear if ultrasound boosts the development of healthy microorganisms or if it suppresses them and they start producing kefiran as a defense response. We have decided to determine which treatment parameters are required to intensify this process while maintaining the qualities of the consumer product. Mathematical simulations helped establish the best modes and duration of the ultrasound treatment," explained Irina Kalinina, a SUSU associate professor.
Researchers at SUSU School of Medicine Biology have received patents for ultrasound applications in the production of dry extracts and fermented milk drinks, and for reconstituted powdered milk and meat packing.