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Geeky Science: Frozen Probiotics in the Microwave

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 25, 2012 at 10:26 AM

I'd brought along a bit of kefir today to mix into a salad dressing but it ended up frozen in the fridge. I nuked it in the microwave to get it back into liquid form. Still cold, but I know probiotics don't stand up to heating. If, however, they are brought from solid to liquid form and still cold, would the probiotics survive?

And as a follow up - are frozen probiotics (fro yo, kefir, etc.) as potent as room temp or the fridge?

B885dc10c6263f5a4492205d50560bee

(401)

on September 25, 2012
at 05:06 PM

+1 for "(done by a student who needs to learn how to label his graphs and table better (but I digress...))"

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4 Answers

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2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 25, 2012
at 04:48 PM

Yes, microwaving can kill bacteria. But it is the heat of the microwave, not the microwave's themselves that kill the bacteria.

So most likely, the vast majority of probiotics were not harmed, although some likely were sacrificed, especially any occupying the surface.

However, this sounds like a really cool science experiment. It would be easy to grow harmless bacteria, and then with a control (left on the counter), one in the freezer then microwave, one on the counter and microwave, compare the results. Try it out and post back your results.

As for freezing probiotics. It is very likely that freezing greatly reduces the bacteria, but does not kill off all of it. This study (done by a student who needs to learn how to label his graphs and table better (but I digress...)) suggests that the traditional method of producing kefir is more resilient than commercial products to freezing. http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-04252012-155457/unrestricted/obrien-thesis.pdf

B885dc10c6263f5a4492205d50560bee

(401)

on September 25, 2012
at 05:06 PM

+1 for "(done by a student who needs to learn how to label his graphs and table better (but I digress...))"

0
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on September 25, 2012
at 11:43 PM

Freezing won't harm the probiotics but it will slow them down--kind of like a movie in slow motion. Heat can kill them, but whether or not the heat from the microwave was enough or not, I don't know. Microwaves "excite" the molecules, that's what generates the heat, so I would expect that some of the probiotics did get harmed, but probably not all.

0
Be8ee0bfa002f8537699668dd16c52ca

(30)

on September 25, 2012
at 05:41 PM

I use to make my own yoghurt with probiotic cultures (a mixture of Lactobacillus acidophilus LA1 and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB12). From my experience, it doesn't make any difference whether I microwave the milk to ca. 40°C inoculation temperature before or after adding the freeze dried starter culture, so I conclude that the radiation from an ordinary microwave oven doesn't hurt probiotic bacteria unless due to the heat it generates.

-2
F0cd75b61a62c4931f50be148154348b

on October 06, 2012
at 05:32 AM

My friend gave me PHP maxam product. PHP, is intended to help replenish and restore proper immune and gut bacterial functionality beyond the standard probiotic formula.

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