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The Effects of Pasteurizing and Filtering Kombucha

The labels on our food products can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to understand, whether they’re peppered with certification stickers or display paragraph-long lists of ingredients, it can be difficult for consumers to know which words to look for when shopping. They don’t always know which designations are good, bad, effective or not. 

There are two of these words whose appearance on the bottle vary according to kombucha company and brewing technique: either unpasteurized and unfiltered, or pasteurized and filtered. What do they mean? Luckily, we’re here to clear things up for you.

WHAT IS PASTEURIZATION ?

As late as the 19th century, drinking milk, juice or even water could be deadly for human beings as a result of the bacteria that accumulated after several days. 

Named after French chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur discovered that spoiling organisms could be inactivated in wine by applying heat at temperatures below its boiling point,between 120 and 140 F, though the acidity of the food item is key in determining the temperature at which it needs to be heated and for how long. The process was later applied to milk, which is the utilization most of us probably associate with pasteurization today. 

The process of pasteurization can apply to both packaged and non-packaged foods in an effort to prevent spoilage, effectively extending their shelf life, and eliminate pathogens, such as bacteria. And food and beverages can be pasteurized either before or after being confined to their container, using steam or hot water. 

In some cases, eating unpasteurized foods can cause fever, vomiting and diarrhea, but that is certainly not the case for kombucha. 

WHAT IS FILTRATION ?

Like pasteurization, filtration is a process used widely across the food and beverage industry. Everything from dairy products, to grains, to beer, to maple syrup is filtered. Filtration can occur at various points in the production process, from initially separating and removing wastes, all the way to purifying and refining the product. Many of these food and beverage items would be otherwise unsafe for the market. 

Products can also undergo filtration to decontaminate them from the air within the production facility and protect them from mold and viruses as well as from cross-contamination from other products produced in the same space.

Filtration can be an essential component in the production of certain foods and beverages, such as wine, which is filtered to clear out sediments, remove clouding and leave behind a more robust flavour. However, when it comes to other items, filtration can have a negative effect. 

EFFECT ON KOMBUCHA

At Gutsy, we don't filter or pasteurize our kombucha. Pasteurizing our kombucha would effectively eliminate the colonies of bacteria that develop during fermentation. And we want those bacteria! The healthy bacteria found in kombucha can contribute to better digestion and improving overall gut health. And many kombucha drinkers choose to incorporate this carbonated beverage into their diet exactly for those potential benefits. Although some kombucha brewers who utilize pasteurization add bacteria back into the mixture afterwards, that bacteria isn’t as numerous or diverse as those naturally occurring. That’s why our kombucha needs to be refrigerated. Refrigeration helps keep the microorganisms inactive but alive, while retaining their benefits, so they don't over-reproduce and alter the product’s flavour (or produce too much gas).

Similarly, filtration would rid our kombucha of the sediment that sits at the bottom of the can. Those bacterial and yeast particles are not only drinkable but good for you, too. 

We pride ourselves on crafting the healthiest and best-tasting kombucha, so you can drink it rest assured that you’re getting all of its proposed benefits.

 

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