What is Fermentation all About? Basically, microorganisms that are involved with the breakdown of sugar.
Fermentation is the conversion of sugar molecules, which exist in almost all foods ... into alcohols or acids. This is done with the assistance of favorable bacteria, yeasts, and molds.
Furthermore, these microorganisms utilize enzymes to breakdown the sugar molecules and create by-products or waste-products (depending on who you talk to). Lactic and acetic acid are the most common acids produced from this process as well as alcohol or ethanol.
Any Food can Serve as a Substrate for the Fermentation Process
Soybeans are used to make soy sauce, tempeh, and miso
Coffee berries or beans are used to make coffee
Sweet tea is used to make kombucha
Cacao beans are used to make chocolate
Red wine is used to make red wine vinegar
Grains are used to make beer, hard liquor, and bread
Cabbage is used to make sauerkraut and kimchi
Grapes are used to make red and white wine
Milk is used to make cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, kefir, and buttermilk
What is Fermentation Microorganisms?
Nearly all ferments are the result of more than one microorganism either working together or in a sequence. What is fermentations most common group of microorganisms that work together? Answer: Bacteria, Yeasts, and Molds.
Bacteria and Bacterial Fermentation
The most important bacteria involved in bacterial fermentation are the Lactobacillaceae (lactobacillus is part of this group of bacteria). They produce Lactic Acid.
Most important bacteria for fruit juice and alcohol ferments are the Acetobacter bacteria. They produce Acetic Acid.
Both of these types of bacteria help to impart a sour taste to foods.
Yeasts and Yeast Metabolism
There are several hundred species of yeasts that have been identified, but the most "Beneficial Yeasts" are from the Saccharomyces family, especially .... S. Cerevisiae.
These are the yeast responsible for making Wine, Beer, and Bread.
Yeast metabolism occurs when yeast feed on sugar and this
action produces alcohol and carbon dioxide (which raises bread).
Molds and Moldy Food
Molds do not play an important role in fruit and vegetable ferments (for the obvious reasons), but they are important for the flavoring of cheese and soybean ferments.
Some molds are considered rather harmless, but some of them can make you
sick. I wouldn't eat the stuff that grows on old bread - that's moldy
food that isn't worth the risk of consuming!
You will find some very helpful tips on fermentation as well as recipes by reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.