Have you ever wondered where bread get its fluffiness? Swiss cheese get its holes? Vinegar gets its sourness? These foods may taste very different, but all of them came from microorganisms chowing down sugars and releasing their by-products.
Let’s start with yeast, shall we? Yeasts are used to make bread, beer and wine.
Like all living organisms, yeasts break down carbohydrates to form sugars to get energy. Yeast consumes sugars and produce carbon dioxide gas and water as their by-products. The carbon dioxide gases are trapped as gas bubbles by gluten and create the sponge-like texture that give bread it’s soft and fluffiness that we all love! Isn’t that amazing?
Now let me introduce another microorganism that is involved in the process of making your favourite cheese.
To make your favourite cheese, milk is inoculated with bacteria. The bacteria gobble up the lactose that is present in the milk producing many other chemical compounds. Lets not bore ourselves with too much chemistry here shall we? So when the bacteria gobbles up the sugars, the milk becomes more acidic and this causes the protein in milk to aggregate and curdle. That’s why spoilt milk is clumpy. YUCK! But wait! Yogurt is basically clumped up milk too!
Okay back to cheeses. Cheese makers usually add an enzyme called renin which can be found naturally in cows and goats. The little curdles of milk will eventually turn into bigger curds which are pressed to create a firm cheese. Different strains of bacteria make different types of cheese. For example, swiss cheese is made from a strain of bacteria that releases carbon dioxide which is why you see holes in them. Blue cheese on the other hand, is made by the mould, Penicillium which gives the cheese it’s unique blue spotted appearance.
Fermentation is a culture that has been used by humans for thousands of years worldwide and is still used today. To be honest, I feel like the kitchen is a biotechnology lab where the microorganisms are busy culturing our food, producing lots of chemical reactions and by-products which make our food taste a lot more interesting!
Now, take a look in your kitchen cupboards and fridge. Yogurt, soy sauce, sour cream and miso are all fermented foods! How many fermented foods you have got?
Other than being tasty, fermented foods are actually really beneficial for our health, it is important to incorporate some naturally fermented foods in our diet. Our body is colonised with bacteria inside and out, if these bacteria are not living in harmony with our body, we will not be able to stay healthy.
Fun fact: there are 10 trillion cells in our body, guess how many microorganisms are living in and on your body? Its actually 10 TIMES more! Can you believe it?
Let us know if you are interested in fermented foods and its benefits. I’m more than happy to share more information about gut health and of course recipes of fermented food that can be easily made in your kitchen using simple, easy to find ingredients and also how to incorporate them in your diet.