The secret behind your fermented food

The secret behind your fermented food: Bacteria make fermented food delicious!

The secret behind your fermented foodKimchi and sauerkraut have been famous and beloved dishes in Korea and Germany for centuries, and fermented food is currently among the most popular dietary trends.

Fermentation is used to describe the numerous different processes performed by microorganisms. But, what exactly can turn something like cabbage into a delicious meal, just by pressing it into a sealed jar so that it is covered in its own juice?

“When we ferment food, microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria turn the sugar in vegetables into lactic acid, acetic acid, carbon dioxide and so on. This makes the food sour, but it protects it against unwanted decay and pathogenic germs, which are unable to grow in food that is adequately sour,” explains Jan Vester, a researcher specializing in bacteria at Novozymes.

Sealing the glass container is an important element in the fermentation process.

“The food ferments when there is insufficient oxygen present, and most harmful organisms thrive when there is oxygen,” explains Jan Vester. “Sealing the glass results in acidification and lack of oxygen, both of which limit unwanted growth.”

Bacteria are the most abundant organisms on earth, and Jan Vester is looking for bacteria that can be used to produce enzymes or sustainable fertilizer.

“Microorganisms are found everywhere in nature. Fruits and vegetables are quite naturally covered in microflora, including lactic acid bacteria, which ferment the sugar in vegetables into lactic acid,” says Jan Vester.

“You cannot see the lactic acid bacteria with the naked eye, but I am happy they are there – also when I ferment my food.”

Facts: What are microorganisms and bacteria?
A microorganism is microscopic living matter, like a bacterium. The study of microorganisms is called microbiology – a science that began with Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s discovery of microorganisms back in 1674.

In ecosystems, microorganisms are critical because they help sustain life and break down plant matter.

Lactic acid bacteria constitute a large group of bacteria known for having beneficial properties for human digestion and general health. Lactic acid bacteria occur naturally in our digestive and urinary systems. Common to all lactic acid bacteria is that they produce lactic acid as the end product of fermentation.

About Novozymes
Novozymes is the world leader in biological solutions. Together with customers, partners and the global community, we improve industrial performance while preserving the planet’s resources and helping build better lives. As the world’s largest provider of enzyme and microbial technologies, our bioinnovation enables higher agricultural yields, low-temperature washing, energy-efficient production, renewable fuel and many other benefits that we rely on today and in the future. We call it Rethink Tomorrow.