What is Fermentation

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What is Fermentation

Beer, wine, curd, are some of the products of fermentation. But do you actually know what is fermentation? Find biological definition and some of the famous examples of fermentation.

Do you know what is common between curd, wine and beer? They are all formed by the process of fermentation. But what is fermentation? A simple fermentation definition can be: the process of breaking down of complex substances into a simpler form. The history of fermentation is very old. The process of fermentation was used in making beverages such as beer and wine, since as early as the year 7000 BC. Later on, the process was used to make many milk products like curd and cheese. The science of fermentation is known as zymology, and Louis Pasture was the first zymologist who is known for his research on yeast and the fermentation process. So let’s find some more information on the fermentation process in the following paragraphs.

What is Fermentation in Biology?

In biology, the fermentation process is actually a conversion of sugar into acids or alcohol with the help of bacteria or yeast. The bacteria help in the conversion of sugar into acid, and the yeast is used for the alcohol production. Many people wonder, is fermentation aerobic or anaerobic? The answer to this is that fermentation takes place in anaerobic conditions or in the absence of oxygen. 

The process of fermentation initially resembles the process of glycolysis. In the first step of glycolysis, glucose is broken down into pyruvic acid, ATP and NADH. After this process the NADH is further re-oxidized and CO2 and the end product which can be either alcohol or acid, depending upon the organism performing the fermentation process, is released. So, we can say that fermentation is a chemical process.

Fermentation Examples

Following are some examples of fermentation, which will help you to understand the process and uses of it.

  • Beer is one of the best examples of anaerobic fermentation. It is made out of grains like wheat, barley, etc. The grain is dried and then mashed properly. This is then mixed with hot water. Then this mixture is kept in a fermentation vessel and then yeast is added. The vessel is then left for a few weeks in anaerobic conditions. In this condition, the yeast eats the sugar or carbohydrates and forms alcohol. After a considerable period of time, the beer is taken out from the vessels, filtered and then packed in the bottles.
  • Wine is another ideal example of fermentation. Grapes are used to make wine. They are crushed and made into a pulp. Then they are left like that for a few days so that they soak the juice and tanning from the skin of the grapes. Then they are filtered so that the skin gets separated. Then yeast is added to them and left for many weeks in anaerobic conditions. After a particular period of time, they are separated in different vessels and are left for slow fermentation. Later, they are packed in bottles and are ready to be consumed.
  • The easiest and most common fermentation example is of curd. Curd is made from milk. The milk is treated with lactobacillus bacteria and is left for fermentation in anaerobic conditions for some hours. After that, the curd can be either directly served or served after refrigerating for some time.

Apart from the above given examples, cheddar cheese, soy sauce, vinegar, pickles, batter, and brandy are also some of the famous edible products made by the process of fermentation. Food can also be preserved and can be kept for a long period of time with the help of this process. The fermentation products like curd are very helpful in digestion and also beneficial in treating other health conditions. We hope by now, fermentation and how does it differ from glycolysis, is no more a query. So, keep taking advantage of the wonderful fermentation products.

Detail of inside mash tun while making whiskey
Production of alcoholic

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