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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