Everyone knows that beer and wine are fermented, right? What many people don’t know is that fermentation is an integral part of preparing many of our favorite foods. There’s a good chance that you’ve eaten something fermented today and didn’t even realize it (other than our own delicious ferments of course).
Bread- Bread relies on fermentation to rise. The yeast consumes the sugars in the flour and gives off CO2 in the process. The gas is trapped in the dough and the result is delicious bread. Sourdough takes fermenting a step further and relies on bacteria to create the tangy sourness we all love.
Coffee- Coffee is produced in a variety of ways, many of which involve fermentation. During processing, the coffee berry is removed, and a sweet layer of mucilage is left behind. That mucilage is then allowed to ferment. The process creates acids that lend depth and character to the resulting coffee.
Vinegar- Vinegar goes through multiple fermentations steps before it gets to your table. The first step is to create alcohol by relying on yeast to convert sugar to alcohol. The next step is to introduce bacteria, which turns the alcohol into vinegar. You may have noticed this happening at home with wine starting to go bad, as bacteria are naturally present everywhere.
Cheese- Cheese relies on fermentation to both preserve and give it amazing flavors. Many ages cheeses are actually lactose free because the fermentation process consumes the sugar naturally present in the milk. The blue in blue cheese is a carefully cultivated type of mold that is both save to eat and incredibly delicious.
Cured meats- Many types of traditionally cured meats rely on fermentation as a crucial part of the aging process. The meat is allowed to ferment for a day or so to create acid before it is placed in a cool environment to dry age. The acidic environment serves to help preserve the meat and also provides a wonderful flavor complexity to the finished product.