Plants that quench

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What is there in common between fruit and vegetable juices, vegetable milk, beer or distilled alcohol? Answer: These drinks come from plants before being more or less transformed. 
Drinking is an imperative need. We use for nutritional and physiological reasons about two liters of water a day that we compensate with food and drink: water, fruit juice, vegetable or animal milk … With great moderation, we can also consume alcoholic beverages that are derived from fermentation plants followed or not distillation. 

Fruit and vegetable juices, health elixirs

Juices extracted from fresh, raw vegetables provide our cells and tissues with all the nutrients they need. They allow to fill up with vitamins, minerals and sugars, because their assimilation is direct and fast. Hence the craze for “juice detox” to be in shape!

Better, and this is a point of agreement between scientists and doctors, fruits and vegetables have a protective effect on most cancers, especially those of the upper aerodigestive tract (esophagus, oral cavity, larynx, pharynx) stomach, lung, colon and rectum.

The benefits of plant milks on health

Vegetable milks have become over time the favorite drinks of vegetarians and now hold a place of choice in the organic shops and dietary rays of supermarkets. If soy milk is the best known, there are other plant milks such as milk milks (rice, oats, spelled, rye …), milks of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or chestnuts.

These milks are usually consumed as substitutes for cow’s milk. They are usually easier to assimilate by the body. They are low in saturated fat and do not contain lactose. Soymilk, for example, contains vegetable proteins of good biological value and essential amino acids that allow the prevention of osteoporosis (and randomly reduce the symptoms of menopause) but especially that lower blood cholesterol. By cons, this soy milk can cause allergic risks and inactivate some treatments. It is not recommended for pregnant women and infants.

Malt made from barley seeds that have been sprouted and dried to produce beer

A good beer is above all … a good variety and a certified seed ! Varietal research in malting barley has been a French strength for decades. Every year, maltsters and brewers from France publish a list of ” varietiespreferred by their technological requirements. To make 1 liter of beer, it takes on average 200 grams of malt, about 120 grams of malting barley. All the art of the malteur lies in the choice of barley varieties to produce the 300 beers inventoried in France. The beer has had historically cosmetic and medicinal virtues. In the nineteenth century, beer was still manufactured and sold in pharmacies, with added plants of various virtues. Today, beer is sold over-the-counter, but it is recommended for adults to drink in moderation, like any alcoholic beverage.

Fermented and distilled drinks

Other plants, still grains or starchy foods, can also be fermented if they contain a sufficient source of starch or fermentable sugars. Japanese sake is a “beer” of rice, but its alcohol content is closer to that of wines (14 to 17%). The pulque, drink of Mexican origin, results from the fermentation of the sweet sap of a fatty plant (the agave).

Fermented drinks can be distilled to extract alcohol and other volatile substances. Natural spirits may be the product of the distillation of common fermented beverages (cognac, armagnac or brandy from wine, calvados from cider, whiskey from beer or tequila from pulque), but many of them come from fermented vegetable products for the sole purpose of distilling them. This is the case of the fermentation of cherries (kirsch), sugar cane (rum), corn (bourbon) and potato (vodka).

History: beer, secret of monks …

The first sip of beer goes back to ancient times. In Egypt, it constituted, with bread, the normal meal of the peasant and the slave. Later in Gaul, we ate a lot of beer or beer. But it is the monks who will give the beer its nobility. It was in the Middle Ages that the beer flowed for the first time in the abbeys. The monks began brewing their beer for two reasons: the fear of drinking water that carried disease and deadly epidemics and the law of hospitality to pilgrims. The monks will conscientiously collect all the ancient traditions of manufacture and gradually improve the raw materials and brewing. They will especially introduce another key element of the current beer recipe: hops, which will bring flavor,

Some anecdotes …

Hergé, precursor of a brand of whiskey In the adventures of Tintin, Captain Haddock, who drinks quite easily (!), Has a favorite whiskey, “Loch Lomond”. This brand did not exist when the designer Hergé directed it for the first time. It was not until 1965, a year after its appearance in the comic strip, that the distillery of the same name was created. This distillery is unique in Scotland, producing both grain whiskey and malt whiskey at the same site. The cognac of peace On November 11, 1918, the armistice ended the First World War. The official signature took place in the train stationed in the forest of Compiegne, Rethondes. Marshal Foch represented the French army, General Staff Von Winterfeld, the German army. The story goes that a cognac was served after the signature, sealing a (provisional) peace between France and Germany. Did you know ? In Armagnac, the Romans introduced the vineyard, the Arabs the still and the Celts were. From the meeting of these three cultures Armagnac was born. Biofuel from whiskey Rolling cars with whiskey? This could be a possibility. Researchers at the Biofuels Research Center at Edinburgh’s Napier University (Scotland) filed a patent for a new biofuel made from whiskey in 2010. Scientists have in fact used two main by-products of the famous Scottish drink: the “pot ale”, a liquid residue remaining in the copper still after the first distillation, and the “draff”, which comes from the brewing barley and water. Paying cash“Kash” is what was called the beers used to pay stonecutters working on the pyramids in ancient Egypt. This word gave “cash” in English and generated the expression “pay cash”. “You can judge a good beer in one sip, but it is prudent to check your first impression.” (Czech proverb)

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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