The preservation aspect of fermented foods was obviously important thousands of years ago, when few other preservation techniques existed. A raw food material such as milk or meat had to be eaten immediately or it would soon spoil. Although salting or smoking could be used for some products, fermentation must have been an attractive alternative, due to other desirable features. Preservation was undoubtedly one of the main reasons why fermented foods became such an integral part of human diet. However, even today, preservation, or to use modern parlance, shelf-life (or extended shelf-life), is still an important feature of fermented foods. For example, specialized cultures that contain organisms that produce

Table 1.2. Properties of fermented foods

Enhanced preservation

Enhanced nutritional value

Enhanced functionality

Enhanced organoleptic properties


Increased economic value specific antimicrobial agents in the food are now available, providing an extra margin of safety and longer shelf-life in those foods.

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