Ginger, Cinnamon and Yeast
Date: December 2004
Why does ginger and cinnamon affect yeast activity?
I am doing an experiment on how different spices affect yeast
productivity and thus how high bread rises. I know that lots of cinnamon will
activity and ginger will increase it. I don't know why this happens. Is
it a chemical reaction? What is it in the spices that causes this
Different spices have different flavors because they have special
compounds found only in one spice or another. Some of these compounds
can affect how fast yeast grows. Spices come from specific plants and
often specific parts of the plant. The plant makes the flavors to
defend itself against insects that can eat the plant or microbes that
want to live on the plant. Some of these compounds will affect other
organisms like yeast.
Dr. Jim Tokuhisa
First of all, you would want to make sure the spices are not changing the pH or
isotonicity of the fermentation reation. If the pH or isotonicity are not affected,
since cinnamon and ginger are probably a mixture of many different compounds, you
would have to separate the components of the mixture through HPLC (high pressure liquid
chromatography) or TLC (thin layer chromatography) and then test the individual
components separately. When the active ingredients are identified, you would then
see if they affected protein, DNA or RNA synthesis (these would be very sophisticated
experiments, it would be like discovering the mechanism of action of a new antibiotic
which could take years).
Ron Baker, Ph.D.
Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives
Update: June 2012