processes.The debate over the role of microorganisms in fermentation was brought to an unequivocal conclusion by another chemist, Louis Pasteur, who wrote in 1857 that "fermentation, far from being a lifeless phenomenon, is a living process" which "correlates with the development of ... cells and plants which I have prepared and studied in an isolated and pure state"
(Schwartz, 2001). In other words, fermentation could only occur when microorganisms were present.The corollary was also true—that when fermentation was observed, growth of the microorganisms occurred.
In a series of now famous publications, Pasteur described details on lactic and ethanolic fermentations, including those relevant to milk
Box 1—2. Fermented foods and the Bible.
The importance of fermented foods and beverages to the cultural history of human societies is evident from many references in early written records. Of course, the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and other religious tracts are replete with such references (see below). Fermented foods, however, also serve a major role in ancient Eastern and Western mythologies.
The writers ,who had no scientific explanation for the unique sensory and often intoxicating properties of fermented foods, described them as "gifts of the gods." In Greek mythology, for example, Dionysus was the god of wine (Bacchus, according to Roman mythology).The Iliad and the Odyssey, classic poems written by the Greek poet Homer in about 1150 B.C.E., also contain numerous references to wine, cheese, and bread. Korean and Japanese mythology also refers to the gods that provided miso and other Asian fermented foods (Chapter 12).
From the Genesis story of Eve and the apple,to the dietary laws described in the books of Exodus and Leviticus, food serves a major metaphoric and thematic role throughout the Old Testament. Fermented foods, in particular, are frequently mentioned in biblical passages, indicating that these foods must have already been well known to those cultures and civilizations that lived during the time at which the bible was written.
In Genesis (9:20), for example, one of the first actions taken by Noah after the flood waters had receded was to plant a vineyard. In the very next line, it is revealed that Noah drank enough wine to become drunk (and naked), leading to the first, but certainly not last, episode in which drunkenness and nakedness occur. Later in Genesis (18:8), Abraham receives three strangers (presumably angels), to whom he offers various refreshments, including "curds."
Perhaps the most relevant reference to fermentation in the Bible is the Passover story.As described in Exodus (12:39), once Moses had secured the freedom of the Hebrew slaves, they were "thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry."Thus, the dough could not rise or become leavened, and was baked instead in its "unleavened" state.This product, called matzoh, is still eaten today by people of the Jewish faith to symbolically commemorate the Hebrew exodus.
Ritual consumption of other fermented foods is also prescribed in Judaism. Every Sabbath, for example, the egg bread, Challah, is to be eaten, and grapes or wine is to be drunk, preceded by appropriate blessings of praise.
Fermented foods are also featured prominently in the New Testament.At the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11),Jesus' first miracle is to turn water into wine. Later (John 6:1-14), another miracle is performed when five loaves of bread (and two fish) are able to feed 5,000 men.The Sacrament of Holy Communion (described by Jesus during the Last Supper) is represented by bread and wine.
fermentations, beer, and wine. He also identified the organism that causes the acetic acid (i.e., vinegar) fermentation and that was responsible for wine spoilage.The behavior of yeasts during aerobic and anaerobic growth also led to important discoveries in microbial physiology (e.g., the aptly named Pasteur effect, which accounts for the inhibitory effect of oxygen on glycolytic metabolism).Ultimately, the recognition that fermentation (and spoilage) was caused by microorganisms led Pasteur to begin working on other microbial problems, in particular, infec tious diseases. Future studies on fermentations would be left to other scientists who had embraced this new field of microbiology.
Once the scientific basis of fermentation was established, efforts soon began to identify and cultivate microorganisms capable of performing specific fermentations. Breweries such as the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen and the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis were among the first to begin using pure yeast strains, based on the techniques and recommendations of Pasteur, Lister, and others. By the early 1900s, cultures for butter and other dairy products had also become available.The dairy industry was soon to become the largest user of commercial cultures, and many specialized culture supply "houses" began selling not only cultures, but also enzymes, colors, and other products necessary for the manufacture of cheese and cultured milk products (Chapter 3). Although many cheese factories continued to propagate their own cultures throughout the first half of the century, as factory size and product throughput increased, the use of dairy starter cultures eventually became commonplace. Likewise, cultures for bread, wine, beer, and fermented meats have also become the norm for industries producing those products.
Was this article helpful?
Discover How To Become Your Own Brew Master, With Brew Your Own Beer. It takes more than a recipe to make a great beer. Just using the right ingredients doesn't mean your beer will taste like it was meant to. Most of the time it’s the way a beer is made and served that makes it either an exceptional beer or one that gets dumped into the nearest flower pot.