What is Fermentation? Types, Process, Products
Humans have been fermenting food since the Neolithic Age, although they could not yet explain the chemistry behind fermentation. Today, we know that fermentation also helps us survive, based on the scientific discoveries of the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, who discovered that living organisms ferment.
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation; increases the taste and nutritional value of microorganisms. The word “ferment” is derived from the Latin verb “fervere” which means “to boil”. Ironically, fermentation can occur without heat.
How Does Fermentation Happen?
To learn fermentation, we need to understand the scientific process of these chemical reactions: Microorganisms, carbohydrates (glucose, etc. sugars); they survive using it for fuel and energy. Organic chemicals such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) deliver energy to all parts of the cell when needed. Microbes produce ATP by breathing. Aerobic respiration, which requires oxygen, is the most efficient way to do this. Aerobic respiration begins with glycolysis reactions in which glucose is converted into pyruvic acid. Oxygenated respiration occurs if there is enough oxygen in the environment.
Fermentation is similar to anaerobic respiration that occurs when there is not enough oxygen in the environment. However, fermentation leads to the production of different molecules such as lactic acid that produce ATP, unlike respiratory reactions that use pyruvic acid for ATP. Based on environmental conditions, protozoans and microbes have the ability to switch between the two types of energy production. Organisms usually gain energy through anaerobic respiration reactions, but some species use sulfate as the final electron scavenger in the electron transport system.
What Happens During the Fermentation Process?
Fermentation takes place in an oxygen-free environment (anaerobic conditions) and in the presence of beneficial microorganisms (yeast fungi, mold fungi, and bacteria) that gain their energy through fermentation. If there is enough sugar in the environment, some yeast fungi such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae prefer fermentation even when there is enough oxygen.
During fermentation, these beneficial microbes increase the nutritional value of foods by converting sugars and starch into alcohol and acids and prevent the spoilage of fermented products so that people can keep them longer. Fermentation products contain enzymes necessary for digestion This is important because people are born with a certain number of enzymes and their number decreases as they age. Fermented foods contain enzymes that break down foods to be digested. Fermentation also helps pre-digestion. During fermentation, microbes consume sugar and starch, digesting food before someone eats it.
What are the Advantages of Fermentation?
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics – microorganisms that ensure the absorption of nutrients by protecting gut health. Probiotics help the immune system because the gut produces antibiotics, anti-tumor, anti-viral and antifungal agents, and pathogens become dysfunctional in the acidic environment of fermented foods. Fermentation also helps neutralize anti-nutrients such as phytic acid in grains, nuts and legumes, which cause mineral deficiency. Phytates make starch, fats and proteins difficult to digest, so neutralizing them is essential. Fermentation can increase vitamins and minerals in foods and make them more absorbable. Fermentation increases vitamins B and C and also increases the amount of folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and biotin. Probiotics, enzymes and lactic acid in fermented foods facilitate the absorption of these vitamins and minerals by the body.
What are the 3 Different Types of Fermentation?
Specialized microbes that can transform certain substrates by fermentation can produce many foodstuffs and beverages. These are referred to as three different types of fermentation used by humans.
Lactic acid fermentation: Yeast species and bacteria can convert starch or sugars to lactic acid without requiring heat. In these anaerobic reactions, pyruvic acid uses NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide + hydrogen) to form NAD + and lactic acid. (Lactic acid fermentation also occurs in human muscle cells. During strenuous activity, muscles consume adenosine triphosphate faster than oxygen can enter the cell. This causes the lactic acid formation and muscle fatigue. In this event, ATP is produced in the glycolysis reaction, where a glucose molecule is converted into two pyruvate molecules without using oxygen.)
Lactic acid bacteria, which are vital in feeding poor communities, produce cheap, healthy foods, and prevent them from spoiling. This method is used for making sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, kimchi, yogurt, and sourdough bread.
Ethanol fermentation/ethyl alcohol fermentation: Yeast fungi break down pyruvate molecules – the breakdown phase of glucose (C6H12O6) – called glycolysis – found in starch or sugars – into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Wine and beer are produced by this type of fermentation.
Acetic acid fermentation: Starch and sugars obtained from grains and fruits turn into sour vinegar and flavorings/sweeteners. Examples include apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, and kombucha tea.