When we hear about fermentation, the first thing that jumps to mind is alcohol, be it beer, wine or spirits, but I bet most of you didn’t know that fermentation is also present in our cooking products. Without it we couldn’t have bread, cream, yogurt, cheese, cider, pickles and all sorts of other yummy delights or necessary products.
Now basically fermentation is a biochemical process in which organic substances are decomposed by enzymes and produce energy. What is meant by biochemical process is the production of chemical compounds in the aliment by bacteria present in a natural way. For example the yeast that occurs naturally on prune skins or grapes before the farmer picks, packs and ships them. An example of intentionally placed bacteria cultures is that of the dairy making process in which different bacteria cultures are used for a different range of products such as creamy yogurt or hard cheese. This is called Lactic acid fermentation.
Lactic acid fermentation is the biochemical process in which lactose is decomposed which results in lactic acid. Besides lactic acid other secondary compounds can occur, such as ethanol, CO2 and other special compounds that make up the special personality of each individually different product.
The lactic acid fermentation process is also applied when pickling vegetables such as cucumbers using bacteria cultures from the Lactobacillus species.
Alcoholic fermentation represents the biochemical process in which sugar is transformed in ethanol and CO2. This transformation occurs as a result of microorganisms such as special yeasts. Most of you think that this type of fermentation is used only in the production of alcoholic drinks such as spirits wine and beer, but how many of you know that almost all bread is made using beer yeast to help It grow before and during baking. The yeast transforms the flour starch into sugars and the sugars into ethanol realizing CO2 in the process making it grow. That’s why sliced bread has small holes in it. The resulting ethanol is very volatile and evaporates during the baking time.