There is a lot more thought that goes into making food products than meets the eye. Everyday people like you and me often take this for granted and only focus on how stuff tastes, but believe me when I say there’s a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure all of our favourite items are up to scratch. From farms and fields to factories and convenience stores, there are so many different processes carried out by so many different people. One of these processes is fermentation, and this is one of the most important of all. It’s been around for centuries and plays a pivotal role in so many different aspects of food products, but what actually is it? What makes it so useful? Read on to find out.
So let’s define what fermentation actually is. More or less it’s the process, performed by biotechnology services, by which carbohydrates are broken down and converted into either alcohol or other organic acids. There are two main types of fermentation, and I’ll explain them briefly here. The first type is known as alcoholic fermentation, which breaks down the carbohydrate pyruvate into carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol in its purest form). It does this with the help of bacteria and yeast. The other type is lactic acid fermentation, which does what it says on the tin by converting lactose into lactic acid.
So why is fermentation so useful? There are a variety of reasons as to why this is the case, and I’m going to tell you about a few of them here. First of all, any food that’s been fermented will be much healthier and easier for us to eat. We all know about how horrible it can be to suffer from indigestion and sore stomachs in general, and this usually happens because food is poor quality and hasn’t gone through enough checks. Food which has been fermented is much more easily digested and passes through our bodies in a much smoother fashion. It breaks down in our stomachs a lot easier and we can therefore relax when eating- as we won’t have to worry about taking a turn for the worse.
Products which have undergone fermentation, whether it be food or drink, also have a much longer shelf life (which as a student I can really get on board with). Again, it’s a pretty universal problem that there are a lot of foods out there that go out of date really quickly (just think of bread). We end up spending more on food because we always forget about certain items, but fermentation helps to combat this a bit. Due to all the good work it does with the enzymes in these products, they last a bit longer before going past their use-by date and actually stay fresher as well. They taste better and last longer, which really is a win-win situation no matter what the food item is.