In the food and beverage industry, including in breweries and distilleries, ensuring absolute precision in each part of the process from measuring and weighing to mixing and packaging is critical. Any changes to any of these elements create variations between batching and inconsistency in taste, texture and even in quality.
Even simple changes in the quality of water can create changes in flavor in a recipe. Water quality can and does change over time, and there may even be changes in the pH or hardness, which is actually a measurement of the calcium carbonate in the water. Additionally, issues with residual cleaners or sanitizers with systems can also create challenges with inconsistent products.
How to Test Water
One of the easiest ways to check for water quality at any time during production or between production batches is to use water test strips. The are simple and easy to use to test the water pH or hardness in just seconds with accurate, semi-quantitative results.
To use the strips, simply follow the manufacturer’s directions. This typically includes placing a drop of water on the test pad or immerse the indicator pad into the sample. For water hardness, it is important to test after any water softening process.
Then, within just seconds, the indicator pad will turn colors. Compare the color to the references on the bottle for a reading of the pH or hardness depending on the type of water test strips in use.
Testing for Residual Cleaners
With clean-in-place processes or even with clean-out-of-place systems, checking there is no residual detergent or cleaner in the system is critical for product quality. Specialized test strips are designed to check for the various types of cleaning chemicals, including Quaternary Ammonium Compound or QAC Sanitizers that are mandated in many food and beverage production systems.