Fermented Foods

Fermented Foods

Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol. The science of fermentation is also known as, zymology or zymurgy.

Fermentation usually implies that the action of microorganisms is desirable, and the process is used to produce alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and cider. Fermentation also is employed in the leavening of bread (CO2 produced by yeast activity); in preservation techniques to produce lactic acid in sour foods such as sauerkraut, dry sausages, kimchi, and yogurt; and in pickling of foods with vinegar (acetic acid).

See also: History of wine and History of beer

Natural fermentation precedes human history. Since ancient times, however, humans have been controlling the fermentation process. The earliest evidence of winemaking dates from eight thousand years ago, in Georgia, in the Caucasus area. Seven-thousand-year-old jars containing the remains of wine have been excavated in the Zagros Mountains in Iran, which are now on display at the University of Pennsylvania. There is strong evidence that people were fermenting beverages in Babylon circa 3000 BC, ancient Egypt circa 3150 BC, pre-Hispanic Mexico circa 2000 BC, and Sudan circa 1500 BC.

French chemist Louis Pasteur was the first known zymologist, when in 1856 he connected yeast to fermentation. Pasteur originally defined fermentation as "respiration without air". Pasteur performed careful research and concluded:

"I am of the opinion that alcoholic fermentation never occurs without simultaneous organization, development, and multiplication of cells, ... . If asked, in what consists the chemical act whereby the sugar is decomposed, ..., I am completely ignorant of it."

Read more about Fermented FoodsContributions To Biochemistry, Uses, Fermented Foods By Region, Risks of Consuming Fermented Foods

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... The World Health Organization has classified pickled foods as a possible carcinogen, based on epidemiological studies ... Other research found that fermented food contains a carcinogenic by-product, ethyl carbamate (urethane) ...

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