Food Science Projects

1. Safety and quality evaluation of sauerkraut fermentation using potassium chloride as an alternative to sodium chloride

Sauerkraut is known to have many health benefits because it is rich in vitamins and contains probiotics, antioxidants and anticarcinogens properties.  Vegetable fermentation typically contains 2-3 % (w/w) NaCl, and sauerkraut is no different. While the addition of NaCl is essential in the production of fermented cabbage, there is demand from consumers and manufacturers to reduce the salt amount. Excess sodium chloride has been linked to many heath concerns such as loss of muscle mass, renal insufficiency, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and many more. This project will evaluate the safety and quality of KCl, an NaCl alternative during sauerkraut production. The summer scholar will make sauerkraut in the Cornell Venture Center Food Pilot. They will monitor the pH, the sugars levels (glucose, sucrose and fructose), lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and spoilage organisms during fermentation. They will also study the survival, growth or death Listeria inocua, and E. coli 25922 (surrogates for L. monocytogenes and E. coli O157:H7 respectively). The student will learn basic microbiological analytical skills, aseptic techniques, media preparation and more. They will also assist with other on-going studies in the lab if time allows for it.

Laboratory – 100%

Mentor: Ann Charles Vegdahl


2. From cask to glass: the sensory impacts of sugar maple for craft beverage aging

Oak barrels have been used to age wine, spirits, and beers for centuries, and the desirable sensory properties they impart have been well documented. Oak is only one of many New York-grown hardwoods that could be used for beverage aging, however, and one interesting option is the sugar maple (Acer saccharum). As part of an ongoing project assessing the sensory potential of key New York wood species, we plan to borrow a method from Tennessee whiskey production and assess the chemical and sensory differences sugar maple wood aging imparts to other craft beverages. This project will involve chemical sensory analysis, and is appropriate for anyone interested in food science, flavor chemistry, sensory evaluation, wood chemistry, or craft beverage production. The scholar will learn how to plan, design, and conduct a production experiment, plan, design and conduct a sensory evaluation, and perform a range of instrumental chemical analyses.

Chemistry Lab—50%   Sensory Science—50%

Mentors: Jen Neubauer & Anna Katharine Mansfield, Cornell Craft Beverage Institute (CCBI)