When Aniko Zala first nibbled on kimchi, the spicy Korean cabbage mixture bit her back. “I always loved sour flavors,” she said. “I couldn’t handle the funk at first.“ The dish eventually grew on Zala, though, and kimchi is now one of many fermented foods that she makes and stocks at her Blendon Township home. Although the pungent aromas and occasional scum of fermentation can be overwhelming to novices, the method of preserving vegetables, grains and dairy need not be. “People think it’s a lot harder than it is, and that you have to be more precise than you need to be,” said Zala, who runs Wild Origins, a local herbalist business. “You only need a jar, some vegetables, some salt and some water.“ Fermentation’s surge in popularity is actually a resurgence, said Valente Alvarez, a food scientist and director of the Food Industries Center at Ohio State University. The food-processing method is one of the oldest there is. Archaeologists have found evidence of a fermented alcoholic drink — a fruit, rice and honey concoction — dating to 7000 B.C. in China. Sailors staved off scurvy by scarfing down vitamin-rich sauerkraut packaged in casks to last for years, Alvarez said. “It’s existed as long as humans have existed,” he said of fermentation. What is fermentation? If you’ve ever eaten soy sauce, summer sausage, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut or vinegar, you have already sampled a variety of fermented foods. Zymology, the science of fermentation, harnesses microorganisms to convert carbohydrates into alcohols or acids. Take milk, for example. On its own, milk has a mild, sweet flavor. When it’s fermented, bacteria convert lactose, a milk sugar, into acid, producing cheese or yogurt with a tangy, sour taste. Another type of fermentation — one that transforms sugar into ethanol — produces wine, beer, ciders and some spirits. Fermentation also includes the process by which bread is leavened when yeast converts sugar into carbon dioxide. “Fermentation can occur in any food,” Alvarez said. “The only commonality is the distinct acid flavor that all fermented products have.” He emphasized that the process is distinct from both pickling (which involves preserving in acetic acid) and curing (which uses salt or sugar to draw the moisture out of a food such as prosciutto).
For More You Can Check: