One of the most hyped techniques in modern cooking
Long before mankind discovered electricity and invented the refrigerator fermentation evolved from a basic need – to keep food from spoiling and preserve it for a longer time. So even though there is a lot of buzz around fermentation these days there is nothing new about it. Our ancestors have been doing it for centuries, and they even mastered the art of fermentation long before they knew how it worked or the fascinating science behind it.
Fermentation simply preserves food, including milk, meats, wine, beer, fruits and vegetables, while also destroying naturally accruing toxins and this helps to keep products safe. Just think about it, yogurt lasts much longer than fresh milk and salami much longer than fresh meat. But there are even more benefits to reap from fermentation – delicate tastes and a healthy digestion to mention a few – and those are probably the reasons why fermentation has been put on a pedestal by famous chefs and food scientists.
"Of all the different transformations we call cooking, I think fermentation is the most miraculous and the most mysterious."
– Michael Pollan in his Netflix documentary ‘Cooked’
The bioscience behind fermentation
Fermentation is the biochemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms. It is a bioprocess that utilizes microorganisms to produce either acid or alcohol from carbohydrate sources such as sugars and fibers. These metabolites (substances made during the “breakdown”, in this case acid or alcohol) both preserve food and create unique flavors, textures and enhanced nutrition.
When we as consumers do our grocery shopping, we expect our favorite products to taste just like last time and that is why controlled fermentation is widely used in the food industry. Not only is fermentation an all-natural method, it also enables food companies to deliver a high consistency in the foods that consumers know and love.