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How can we preserve the fruity aroma of ciders?

A yeast destroys the fruity aroma of ciders even at a low level of contamination.

Dégustation de cidre © Y. Corven
Updated on 08/07/2019
Published on 04/19/2019

Cider consumers often look for a fruity aroma which is principally due to esters, a combination of an acid and an alcohol. Acetate esters in particular, generated by yeasts during fermentation, constitute the basis of cider aroma. Fermentation conditions (temperature, succession of yeasts) may change the formation of these aroma compounds. However, the fruitiness acquired at the end of fermentation sometimes seems to be totally destroyed during conservation: ciders suddenly lose their fruity aroma without any clear explanation.

The IFPC (Institut Français des Productions Cidricoles – French Institute for Cider Production) and INRA’s Research Unit on Biopolymers - Interactions and Assemblies (BIA), working together as part of the Joint Technological Unit Actia Nova²Cidre, have just demonstrated that this loss in aroma corresponds to the destruction of certain esters by a yeast of the genus Brettanomyces. This yeast was already known in fermented beverages (wines, beers and ciders) to produce animal-like odours (leather, cowshed, stable). The present work has shown that Brettanomyces anomalus, often present in cideries, specifically degrades acetate esters even before the animal-like aromas are perceived. Thus, a small population (100,000 yeasts per mL) - the impact of which has been overlooked up until now – can destroy in less than 3 weeks the fruity aroma generated by months of fermentation.

To preserve the fruitiness of ciders, the first objective will therefore be to track down this yeast in cideries and to propose solutions to cider producers (in particular cleaning/disinfection procedures) to get rid of it. Studies to increase fermentation aroma production can then start in order to meet consumers’ expectations, which will make it possible to diversify the range of ciders available while improving their aromatic quality.

IFPC - Institut Français des Productions Cidricoles - French Institute for Cider Production
Polyphenols Reactivity Processes team of INRA’s Research Unit on Biopolymers - Interactions and Assemblies (BIA)
The two teams bring together their analytical and experimental facilities in the framework of the Joint Technological Unit Actia Nova²Cidre.

Funding: this study was conducted with the financial participation of the French Ministry for Agriculture and Food.

Publication: Guichard H, Poupard P, Legoahec L, Millet M, Bauduin R, Le Quéré JM: Brettanomyces anomalus, a double drawback for cider aroma. Lwt-Food Science and Technology 2019, 102: 214-222.

Scientific contact(s):

Associated Division(s):
Science for Food and Bioproduct Engineering
Associated Centre(s):
Pays de la Loire, Brittany-Normandy