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The aim of this chapter is to give an overview of microorganisms used in the production of fermented foods. More than 50 species of microorganisms are frequently used in food production, and therefore this chapter will focus mainly on common aspects of the use of microbial cultures, rather than on the differences between the cultures and species. The chapter is intended as a guide for the practical oriented food engineer on how to apply microorganisms in the production of industrially produced fermented foods.

II. FERMENTED FOODS A. Traditional Food Fermentations

Food fermentation has been used for centuries as a method to preserve perishable food products. The raw materials traditionally used for fermentation are diverse and include fruits, cereals, honey, vegetables, milk, meat, and fish. Fermented products encompass, but are not limited to wine, beer, vinegar, bread, soy sauce, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled olives, different fermented milk products, a large number of cheeses, and a variety of sausages. Popular fermented foods are listed in Table 1 together with the raw materials used and the type of culture involved in the fermentation. Fermentation was invented long before the discovery of microorganisms and the mystery of the process is reflected in the common origin of the words for yeast and ghost. It was understood that some processes required an inoculum, and the need for this was satisfied by keeping a sample from the previous production. This procedure is still in use for propagation of sourdough for private use, and also for the production of some artisanal cheeses. For other processes, inoculation was not necessary because naturally occurring microorganisms in the raw materials could, under proper conditions, be a reliable source of the microbial flora. This is the case in the production of raw milk cheeses, wine, sauerkraut, and some fermented sausages. The production of fermented foods and the characteristic qualities of each are described in detail in other chapters of this handbook. Recent comprehensive reviews of fermented foods have been edited by Wood (1).

Table 1 Fermented Foods and the Required Ingredients

Product

Raw material

Starter culture

Beer

Cereals

Yeast

Wine

Grape juice

Yeast, lactic acid bacteria

Vinegar

Wine

Acetic acid bacteria

Bread

Grains

Yeast, lactic acid bacteria

Soy sauce

Soybeans

Mold, lactic acid bacteria

Sauerkraut, kimchi

Cabbage

Lactic acid bacteria

Fermented sausages

Meat

Lactic acid bacteria

Pickled vegetables

Cucumbers, olives a.o.

Lactic acid bacteria

Fermented milks

Milk

Lactic acid bacteria

Cheese

Milk

Lactic acid bacteria, yeast, mold

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The Miracle Of Vinegar

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