People have been fermenting foods for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the French microbiologist and chemist Louis Pasteur discovered how the process occurs. It’s used in cultures all over the world to create the desired taste in bread, wine, cheese, and various vegetables that people tend to love. Let’s take a look at a few facts about fermentation.
Common fermented foods and drinks include sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha. These products improve digestion because the fermentation process stimulates digestive enzymes that start breaking down food. They also promote a healthy gut microbiota that boosts the immune system and primarily exists in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have shown that fermented food also helps in weight management, excreting antinutrients like phytic acid, and improving skin complexion.
Microorganisms like bacteria and yeast are present in fruits, vegetables, and generally everything around us. To ferment different foods, major manufacturers use a bio fermenter to grow fungi and bacteria in large amounts. They absorb the sugars from these foods as a source of energy under anaerobic conditions. When the sugars are broken down into acids or alcohols, they add a distinctive flavor to various foods and drinks. These end-products are rich in probiotics that have tremendous health benefits.
If you’re thinking about fermenting foods and drinks at home, you must keep a few things in mind. First, you should create a starter culture to stimulate the fermentation process like whey from yogurt or SCOBY(Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts) to make kombucha. You have to ensure your equipment is sterilized to prevent harmful bacteria from ruining your cultures. Seal your fermented foodstuffs in air-tight containers or the product may be spoiled. To avoid exposing the fermented foods to air, simply cover the container to the brim with salty water. Vinegar can be used to control the pH and the amount of oxygen present in the container. The temperature conditions should be adjusted depending on the microbes you’re using.
Now let’s take a look at some fermentation fun facts:
- It’s believed that the Chinese were the first to ferment an alcoholic drink. Clay pots containing a 3000-year-old wine made from grapes, rice, and honey.
- Sourdough bread was popular among California miners during the gold rush in the late 1840s. During the winter months, they used to tuck their starters in with them while sleeping to preserve the bacteria and yeast in the dough with body heat.
- Kefir is rich in protein and calcium and helps to make you fall asleep faster due to its tryptophan content.
- Dried kombucha is essentially cellulose that can be treated to create a leathery fabric used to make clothes.
- While sauerkraut is a crowd-favorite hot dog condiment, it has numerous health benefits like relieving constipation. Always purchase the unpasteurized kind as it retains useful probiotics similar to those in yogurt.
Fermentation is a fascinating process that has been practiced for many millennia. It’s used to enhance the flavor of fresh produce, cheese, and different beverages, as well as increase the nutritional value of raw ingredients. The health benefits and distinctive taste of fermented foods are why they’re so popular in various cultures.