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Topic: Fermented Food
- Dr. Ananta Saikia Sir, Murchana Malakar
Fermentation is the process of producing a fermented product by the mass culture of micro organisms involved in it . It is derived from the Latin word fevere meaning “to boil”.
Biochemically, fermentation is a process in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances; especially, the anaerobic breakdown of sugar into alcohol. It is the oldest most which is the most economical method of preserving food .
The local people have been using the microbes without knowing their effects to produce the fermented products . For household purpose, fermentation is followed with simple processing methods. Due to the lack of sterility, the end products often contain mixed microbial population .
Fermentation promotes digestibility and improve the health of human beings . It promotes the shelf-life reducing volume, less cooking time and higher nutritive value. It helps in the detoxification of undesirable compounds such as phytates, polyphenols and tannins. It also enhances the aroma and flavour of the fermented food.
For industrial purpose, it is carried out on a large scale for manufacturing of the product. But in the second phase Microbiology evolved as a science for the first time in the history of fermentation .
Processes involved in fermentation:[7,13]
- Acetic Acid Fermentation: Acetobacter spp. is the main microorganism involved in this process. It aerobically converts the alcohol to acetic acid.
Examples: Wine, Cider and melt honey.
- Lactic Acid Fermentation: It is carried out by lactic acid bacteria. Examples: Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi
- Alcoholic fermentation: Yeast is the main micro organism involved in this process which yields ethanol. Example: Brandy, Beer, Whiskey
- Alkali fermentation: It occurs in case of fish and seeds which are used as condiment.Example: Fish sauce, bagoong.
Types of fermented food:
Cereal based fermented food: Cereal grains are considered to be on one of the most important source of carbohydrate, protein, vitamin and mineral. It improves the texture, aroma of the end product. Most common type of cereals (such as wheat, rice, sorghum or corn) is used for the preparation of fermented foods. The bacteria species involved includes Leuconostoc, Streptococcus, Bacillus, Pediococcus, Lactobacillus, and Micrococcus. Fungi genera include Fusarium, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Trichothecium. The yeasts include Saccharomyces (Steinkraus, 1998).
Table 1: Commonly used cereal based fermented food and beverages [1,4,5,9, 12].
Product Substrate Region
- Anarshe Rice India
- Ang-kak Rice South East Asia
- Bagni Millet Caucasus
- Banku Maize Ghana
- Bogobe Sorghum Botswana
- Brem Rice Indonesia
- Busa Rice Egypt
- Chee-fan Wheat China
- Chicha Maize Peru
- Chonju Rice Korea
- Dalaki Millet Nigeria
- Dhokla Rice/Wheat India
- Dosa Rice India
- Darassum Millet Mongolia
- Hamanatto Wheat Japan
- Idli Rice India/Srilanka
- Injera Wheat/Sorghum Ethiopia
- Jalebies Wheat flour India/ Nepal/ Pakistan
- Kanji Rice India
- Kaffir beer Kaffir corn South Africa
- Kisra Sorghum Sudan
- Lao-chao Rice China/ Indonesia
- Me Rice Vietnam
- Miso Rice and soybeans Japan/ China
- Nan Unbleached wheat flour India/ Pakistan
- Nasha Sorghum Sudan
- Ogi Maize/Sorghum Nigeria
- Puto Rice Philippines
- Pozol Maize Mexico
- Rabdi Maize India
- Sorghum Beer Sorghum/Maize South Africa
- Sake Rice Japan
- Takju Rice/Wheat Korea
- Torani Rice India
- Tape ketan Rice/ Cassava Indonesia
- Uji Maize/Sorghum Kenya
- Vada Ceral India
Legume Based Fermented Foods: Pulses are the chief sources of proteins. The micro organisms involved in it are: Mucor sp., Aspergillus spp., Lactobacillus sp. , Saccharomyces sp.
Table 2: Fermented foods of legumes .
Product Substrate Region
- Aagya Soybean India
- Chee-fan Soybean China
- Dawadawa African locust bean Nigeria
- Kecap Soybean Indonesia
- Khaman Bengal gram India
- Meju Soybean Korea
- Natto Soybean Japan
- Soybean Milk Soybean China
- Tempeh Soybean Indonesia
- Waries Black gram India
Fermented Milk Products: The fermented milk products have higher nutritive value, better keeping quality and it has a strong therapeutic potential. Micro organisms involved are: Lactobacillus sp, Saccharomyces sp, Acetobacter aceti, Yeast.
Table 3: List of Fermented milk products 
Product Source of milk Region
- Buttermilk Bovine USA/ Australia
- Chhurpi Yak India
- Curd Bovine, Buffalo India
- Cultured cream Bovine USA
- Koumiss Horse, Mare, Camel Russia, Asia
- Kefir Bovine, Goat Russia
- Laktofil Bovine Sweden
- Lassi Bovine India
- Leben Ewe, Goat, Sheep Labenon, Iraq
- Quark Bovine Germany, Europe
- Viili Bovine Finland
- Yoghurt Bovine/ Goat Turkey
Fermented Fish & Meat Products:
Meat and fish are the rich source of proteins. Fermentation helps in increasing the shelf life and also gives unique flavour and texture to the final product. It involves the micro organisms such as Actinomycetes, Pseudomonas, Yeast, Penicillium, Lactobacillus, and Micrococcus.
Table 4: List of Meat and fish products 
Product Substrate Region
- Bacon Cured Meat Europe
- Bagoong Fish Philippines
- Fish sauce Fish South East Asia
- Ham Meat Europe
- Katsuobushi Fish Japan
Fermented Fruits & Vegetables:
Fermentation is the oldest method of extending the shelf life of perishable products.
Table 5: List of fermented fruits and vegetables 
Product Substrate Region
- Gundruk Radish India
- Kimchi Radish Korea
- Olive Olive Spain
- Pickle Vegetable India
- Yan-taozih Peach China
- Sauerkraut Cabbage Internatinal
- Soidon Bamboo shoot India
- Yan-tsai-shin Broccoli Taiwan
Benefits of Fermented Foods:
- Variation in the types of fermented products
- Important ingredients can be prepared from it
- Quality is increased to a great extent.
- Preservation increases the shelf life.
- It helps in the recovery of a disease free life.
- Raw materials can be digested to a great extent.
Fermented products which are associated with several cultural and social aspects contain a wide range of probiotics. The tactics which are practised by the ethnic groups reveal the correlation of nature with the people including the micro flora. Value added methods are practised by genetic improvement, strains of micro organisms, using of immobilised systems which will lead to industrialization of the food products. Hence, the fermented products can be maximised and commercializing the technological development in terms of financial support by the governing agencies.
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