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Fermented Foods

Foods that have been subjected to the action of microorganisms or enzymes, in order to bring about a desirable change. Numerous food products owe their production and characteristics to the fermentative activities of microorganisms. Fermented foods originated many thousands of years ago when presumably micro-organism contaminated local foods.

Beneficial microorganisms
Helpful bacteria and fungi that are either added or naturally occur in foods. Create unique flavors and textures or improve the bodys ability to digest foods or fight disease.

The most important bacteria used in food production are the Lactobacillaceae family. This family produces lactic acid from carbohydrates, resulting in changes in certain foods. Example: milk to yogurt.

The most beneficial yeasts for food production are from the genus Saccharomyces. Yeasts produce desirable chemical reactions. Example: leavening of bread and production of alcohol.

Molds from the genus Penicillium are associated with the ripening and flavor of cheeses.

Fermented Foods
Micro-organisms cause changes in the foods which:

Help to preserve the food, Extend shelf-life considerably over that of the raw materials from which they are made, Improve aroma and flavour characteristics, Increase its vitamin content or its digestibility compared to the raw materials.

Table 1 History and origins of some fermented foods

Food Approximate year of introduction 4000 BC 3000 BC 3000 BC 3000 BC 2000 BC 2000 BC 1500 BC 1500 BC 1000 BC 1000 BC 1000 BC 200 BC Region China China, Korea, Japan North Africa, Europe Middle East Middle East North Africa, China Egypt, Europe Middle East Europe Southeast Asia, North Africa China, Europe China

Mushrooms Soy sauce Wine Fermented milk Cheese Beer Bread Fermented Meats Sourdough bread Fish sauce Pickled vegetables Tea

Fermented Foods
The term biological ennoblement has been used to describe the nutritional benefits of fermented foods.
Fermented foods comprise about onethird of the world wide consumption of food and 20- 40 % (by weight) of individual diets.

Table 2 Worldwide production of some fermented foods Food Cheese Yoghurt Mushrooms Fish sauce Dried stockfish

Quantity (t)
15 million


Quantity (hl) 1000 million

3 million
1.5 million 300 000


350 million

250 000

Table 3 Individual consumption of some fermented foods: average per person per year Annual Food Country consumption Beer (I) Germany 130 Wine (I) Italy, Portugal 90
Yoghurt (I) Argentina Finland Netherlands Korea Indonesia Japan UK Japan
70 40 25

Kimchi (kg) Tempeh (kg) Soy sauce (I) Cheese (kg) Miso (kg)

18 10 10 7

Table 4 Benefits of fermentation

Benefit Preservation Enhancement of safety Acid production Acid and alcohol production Production of bacteriocins Removal of toxic components Fermented food Milk Yoghurt, cheese (Most materials) Fruit Barley Grapes Meat Cassava Soybean Wheat Leafy veges. Coconut Milk Coffee beans Grapes Vinegar Beer Wine Salami Gari, polviho azedo Soy sauce Bread Kimchi, sauerkraut Nata de coco Bifidus milk, Yakult, Acidophilus yoghurt Coffee Wine

Raw material

Enhancement of nutritional value Improved digestibility Retention of micronutrients Increased fibre content Synthesis of probiotic compounds
Improvement of flavour

Fresh cassava contains cyanhydric acid (HCN) that should be eliminated from any product originating from cassava to render it fit for human Quic kTime and a (Uncompres sed) dec ompress or consumption. Depending on the production method TIFF are needed to s ee this pic ture. (particularly traditional methods) gari could contains up to 20 mg / kg of HCN - against 43 mg / kg for fresh peeled cassava. Gari is a fermented, gelled and dehydrated food produced from fresh cassava. It is a popular diet in Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and in other West Africa's countries. The consumption area even expands to Central Africa: Gabon, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Angola. Polvilho is a fine tapioca/manioc/cassava flour. it can be found at latino markets in california as "sour starch" (polvilho azedo) or "sweet starch" (polvilho doce)
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Nata de Coco
A high fiber, zero fat Philippino dessert. A chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the bacterial fermentation of coconut milk. Commonly sweetened as a candy or dessert, and can accompany many things including pickles, drinks, ice cream, and fruit mixes. Highly regarded for its high dietary fiber, and its zero fat and cholesterol content. It is produced through a series of steps ranging from milk extraction, mixing, fermentation, separating, cleaning, cutting to packaging.
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Lactic Acid Bacteria

Major group of Fermentative organisms.
This group is comprised of 11 genera of gram-positive bacteria:
Carnobacterium, Oenococcus, Enterococcus, Pediococcus, Lactococcus, Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, Vagococcus, Lactosphaera, Weissells and Lecconostoc

Related to this group are genera such as Aerococcus, Microbacterium, and Propionbacterium.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

While this is a loosely defined group with no precise boundaries all members share the property of producing lactic acid from hexoses.
As fermenting organisms, they lack functional heme-linked electron transport systems or cytochromes, they do not have a functional Krebs cycle. Energy is obtained by substrate-level phosphorylation while oxidising carbohydrates.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

The lactic acid bacteria can be divided into two groups based on the end products of glucose metabolism. Those that produce lactic acid as the major or sole product of glucose fermentation are designated homofermentative. Those that produce equal amounts of lactic acid, ethanol and CO2 are termed heterofermentative.

The homolactics are able to extract about twice as much energy from a given quantity of glucose as the heterolactics.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

All members of Pediococcus, Lactococcus, Streptococcus, Vagococcus, along with some lactobacilli are homofermenters. Carnobacterium, Oenococcus, Enterococcus, Lactosphaera, Weissells and Lecconostoc and some Lactobacilli are heterofermenters The heterolactics are more important than the homolactics in producing flavour and aroma components such as acetylaldehyde and diacetyl.

Lactic Acid Bacteria - Growth

The lactic acid bacteria are mesophiles:

they generally grow over a temperature range of about 10 to 40oC, an optimum between 25 and 35oC. Some can grow below 5 and as high as 45 oC.
Most can grow in the pH range from 4 to 8. Though some as low as 3.2 and as high as 9.6.

Starter Cultures
Traditionally the fermenting organisms came from the natural microflora or a portion of the previous fermentation. In many cases the natural microflora is either inefficient, uncontrollable, and unpredictable, or is destroyed during preparation of the sample prior to fermentation (eg pasteurisation). A starter culture can provide particular characteristics in a more controlled and predictable fermentation.

Starter Cultures
Lactic starters always include bacteria that convert sugars to lactic acid, usually: Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris or Lactococccus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis.
Where flavour and aroma compounds such as diacetyl are desired the lactic acid starter will include heterofermentative organisms such as: Leuconostoc citrovorum or Leuconostoc dextranicum.

Starter Cultures
The primary function of lactic starters is the production of lactic acid from sugars
Other functions of starter cultures may include the following:

flavour, aroma, and alcohol production proteolytic and lipolytic activities inhibition of undesirable organisms

A good starter CULTURE will:

Convert most of the sugars to lactic acid
Increase the lactic acid concentration to 0.8 to 1.2 % (Titratable acidity) Drop the pH to between 4.3 to 4.5