What Is Fermentation
Fermentation in food processing typically refers to the conversion of sugar to alcohol using yeast under anaerobic conditions. A more general definition of fermentation is the chemical conversion of carbohydrates into alcohols or acids. When fermentation stops prior to complete conversion of sugar to alcohol, a stuck fermentation is said to have occurred. The science of fermentation is known as zymology.
Fermentation usually implies that the action of the microorganisms is desirable, and the process is used to produce alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and cider. Fermentation is also employed in preservation to create lactic acid in sour foods such as pickled cucumbers, kimchi and yogurt.
Fermentation is one way microorganisms can change a food. Certain bacteria, including lactic acid bacteria, are used to make yogurt, cheese, hot sauce, pickles and dishes such as kimchi.
A common effect of these fermentations is that the food product is less hospitable to other microorganisms, including pathogens and spoilage-causing microorganisms, thus extending the food’s shelf-life.
Some cheese varieties also require mold microorganisms to ripen and develop their characteristic flavors.