Conventional and innovative extraction technologies to produce food-grade hop extracts

Hop extracts represent a natural alternative to synthetic food additives because of their high content of bitter acids and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with bittering, flavoring, and antimicrobial properties. However, broader uses of hop extracts as natural techno-functional ingredients rely on the identification of sustainable and affordable extraction technologies allowing to diversify the processes and produce extracts characterized by different compositions and, consequently, qualitative properties. Thus, an Italian study published in the Journal of Food Science is aimed to evaluate and compare the effect of innovative and conventional extraction methods on the bitter acids content and VOCs pattern of food-grade ethanolic hop extracts for food applications. 

Innovative extractions were carried out by using two ultrasound systems (a laboratory bath [US] and a high-power ultrasound bath [HPUS]), and a high-pressure industrial process (high hydrostatic pressure [HHP]). Conventional extractions (CONV) were performed under dynamic maceration at 25° and 60°C; for ultrasound and conventional methods, the effect of the extraction time was also investigated. Among the extracts, the highest and lowest content of bitter acids was found in CONV 60°C extracts, and HHP and CONV 25°C extracts, respectively. Of the 34 VOCs identified in dry hops, ~24 compounds were found in US, HPUS and CONV extracts, while only 18 were found in HHP. CONV extractions showed higher selectivity for sesquiterpenes, while US and HPUS showed higher selectivity for esters and monoterpenes. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) allowed classifying hop extracts based on the extraction methods and also allowed highlighting the technological conditions to produce hop extracts with specific techno-functional and flavoring properties. 

The study showed that different extraction methods can lead to hop products with varying sensory and functional properties. By selecting the right extraction method, companies can produce hop extracts with specific compositions that meet their needs for clean label and sustainable food products, as well as new edible packaging or coatings. 


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