The optimum condition for yeast fermentation are as follows:
1) Absence of oxygen.
2) Temperature range of 20° to 30° C
3) pH range of 4 to 4.5
4) Minimum water activity of 0.85
5) Sugar content of less than 40%
The conditions are explained by Fermented Fruit and Vegetables, A Global Perspective, by Mike Battcock and Sue Azam-Ali:
Most yeasts require an abundance of oxygen for growth, therefore by controlling the supply of oxygen, their growth can be checked. In addition to oxygen, they require a basic substrate such as sugar. Some yeasts can ferment sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide in the absence of air but require oxygen for growth. They produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide from simple sugars such as glucose and fructose.
C6H12O6 = 2C2H5OH + 2CO2
Glucose =yeast= ethyl alcohol + carbon dioxide
In conditions of excess oxygen (and in the presence of acetobacter) the alcohol can be oxidised to form acetic acid. This is undesirable if the end product is a fruit alcohol, but is a technique employed for the production of fruit vinegars.
Yeasts are active in a very broad temperature range – from 0 to 50° C, with an optimum temperature range of 20° to 30° C.
The optimum pH for most micro-organisms is near the neutral point (pH 7.0). Moulds and yeasts are usually acid tolerant and are therefore associated with the spoilage of acidic foods. Yeasts can grow in a pH range of 4 to 4.5 and moulds can grow from pH 2 to 8.5, but favour an acid pH (Mountney and Gould, 1988).
In terms of water requirements, yeasts are intermediate between bacteria and moulds. Bacteria have the highest demands for water, while moulds have the least need. Normal yeasts require a minimum water activity of 0.85 or a relative humidity of 88%.
Yeasts are fairly tolerant of high concentrations of sugar and grow well in solutions containing 40% sugar. At concentrations higher than this, only a certain group of yeasts – the osmophilic type – can survive. There are only a few yeasts that can tolerate sugar concentrations of 65-70% and these grow very slowly in these conditions (Board, 1983). Some yeasts – for example the Debaromyces – can tolerate high salt concentrations. Another group which can tolerate high salt concentrations and low water activity is Zygosaccharomyces rouxii, which is associated with fermentations in which salting is an integral part of the process.