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Fermentation Art and Science at Nordic Food Lab

  • Nordic Food Lab

Abstract and Figures

The Nordic Food Lab (NFL) is a self-governed foundation based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The aim of NFL is to investigate food diversity and deliciousness and to share the results in an open-source format. We combine scientific and cultural approaches with culinary techniques from around the world to explore the edible potential of our region. We are intent on challenging and broadening tastes while generating and adapting practical ideas and methods for those who make food and those who enjoy eating. Food fermentation, as a highly diverse and complex set of phenomena, is ripe for this sort of interdisciplinary, practical study. Our aim is to understand the science and craft behind the exceptional results obtained by the very best food producers and, by analysing and experimenting with this knowledge, to figure out how it can be reapplied to food production in new ways.
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Edited by Philip Sloan, Willy Legrand and
Clare Hindley
Preface by Roberto Flore, Nordic Food Lab
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Josh Evans. Nordic Food Lab. 10/07/2015
First published 2015
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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A cata logue record for this book is avail able from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
The Routledge handbook of sustainable food and gastronomy / edited by Philip Sloan,
Willy Legrand and Clare Hindley.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Food supply—Environmental aspects. 2. Food industry and trade—Environmental aspects.
3. Gastronomy. I. Sloan, Philip. II. Legrand, Willy. III. Hindley, Clare.
HD9000.5.R68 2015
338.190286 dc23
ISBN: 978-0-415-70255-3 (hbk)
ISBN: 978-0-203-79569-9 (ebk)
Typeset in Bembo
by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suf folk, UK
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Foreword x
Editors’ biography xii
Editorial intro duc tion xiv
Acknowledgements xvii
Notes on contrib ut ors xviii
Anthropology of food 1
1 Luxurious simpli city”: self- suf cient food produc tion in Italian
ecov il lages 3
Alice Brombin
2 Spirituality, social iden tity, and sustain ab il ity 21
Peter Varga
3 ‘Sustainable food’: whose respons ib il ity is it anyway? A personal
comment ary 29
Clare Hindley
4 Food for thought: culin ary herit age, nostal gia, and food history 34
Paul Cleave
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Josh Evans. Nordic Food Lab. 10/07/2015
Local food initi at ives 45
5 Does the pursuit of local food destroy our envir on ment? Questions
of authen ti city and sustain ab il ity 47
Sean Beer
6 Back to the roots – when hip meets sustain able: a case study of the
Kartoffelkombinat in Munich 57
Thomas Berron
7 Nutrition in rural India 65
Richa Govil
8 Aboriginal food: tradi tional dishes surviv ing in the fast food era 76
Donald Sinclair and Carolann Marcus
9 Sustaining and spread ing local food culture through cooking classes:
a case study of Chiang Mai, Thailand 86
Wantanee Suntikul, Rodrigues Ng Iris, Ho Weng, Luo Xiao Yan,
Lam Iok Cheng and Chan Weng San
10 The use of local culture and sustain ab il ity in local food and bever age
entre pren eur ship: case studies in Cornwall 96
John Tredinnick-Rowe and Tim Taylor
Food move ments 111
11 Vegetarianism for public health and for the envir on ment: major
F&B implic a tions 113
Maryam Fotouhinia Yepes
12 Reducing the food miles: loca vor ism and seasonal eating 120
Jan Arend Schulp
13 Spa cuisine: an oppor tun ity for the hospit al ity industry? 126
Sandra J. Cooper
14 Discussions on Slow Food and San Francisco 135
Alissa Folendorf, Colin Johnson and Mehmet Ergul
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Social pillar/social entre pren eur ship 143
15 Ethical employ ment in the cater ing industry 145
Gaurav Chawla
16 The Peruvian cacao value chain’s success: foster ing sustain able
entre pren eur ship, innov a tion, and social inclusion 157
Sandor G. Lukacs de Pereny
17 An analysis of the poten tial restaur ant oper a tions have for rehab il it at ing
offend ers: a case study of Her Majesty’s Prison, The Verne 187
Sonja Beier
Food innov a tion/future 197
18 Broadening insect gast ro nomy 199
Afton Halloran, Christopher Münke, Paul Vantomme, Benedict Reade
and Josh Evans
19 Wild ideas in food 206
Christopher Münke, Afton Halloran, Paul Vantomme, Josh Evans,
Benedict Reade, Roberto Flore, Roland Rittman, Anders Lindén,
Pavlos Georgiadis and Miles Irving
20 Foods from aquacul ture: varied and growing 214
Ricardo Radulovich
21 Fermentation art and science at the Nordic Food Lab 228
Benedict Reade, Justine de Valicourt and Josh Evans
A sustainable restaur ant system 243
22 Sustainable restaur ant concepts, focus on F&B 245
Elena Cavagnaro
23 Foodservice, health and nutri tion: respons ib il ity, strategies and
perspect ives 253
Laure Saulais
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24 Sustainable supply chains and envir on mental and ethical initi at ives
in restaur ants 267
Christine Demen Meier, Nicolas Siorak, Stéphanie Bonsch Buri and
Clémence Cornuz
25 How self- sufcient can a restaur ant be? Introducing the Foodzone
model, a mana gerial tool 279
Jaap Peter Nijboer, Peter R. Klosse and Jan Arend Schulp
26 Business model devel op ment for a sustain able and respons ible
restaur ant concept: the dimen sions and busi ness rationales of
CSR and sustain ab il ity 286
Anders Justenlund
27 The sustain able restaur ant: does it exist? 297
Charles Barneby and Juline E. Mills
Culinary tourism 305
28 Local foods: market ing and the destin a tion 307
Martyn Pring, Sean Beer, Heather Hartwell and Jeffery Bray
29 Authenticity and exper i ence in sustain able food tourism 315
Sonia Ferrari and Monica Gilli
30 The autumn-
pear: a symbol for local iden tity, local speci al it ies,
biod iversity and collab or at ive park manage ment, an Austrian
case study 326
Ulrike Pröbstl-Haider, Elisabeth Hochwarter and Josef Schrank
31 Tourism, food tradi tions and support ing communit ies in Samoa:
the Mea’ai Project 338
Tracy Berno
32 Foodways of lowland Sariaya: towards a sustain able food tourism 348
Shirley V. Guevarra and Corazon F. Gatchalian
33 Gastronomic tourism: devel op ment, sustain ab il ity and applic a tions –
a case study of County Cork, Republic of Ireland 360
Clare Carruthers, Amy Burns and Gary Elliott
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34 Responsible travel as a means to preserve cultural and natural
herit age: initi at ives in Crete, Greece 370
Nikki Rose
General issues/world food crisis 377
35 International and national regu la tions in favour of sustain able oper a tions
in food service 379
Nicolas Siorak, Christine Demen Meier, Stéphanie Bonsch Buri and
Clémence Cornuz
36 The polit ical and economic real it ies of food system sustain ab il ity 391
Christina Ciambriello and Carolyn Dimitri
37 Customer expect a tions regard ing organic and healthy food 408
Christine Demen Meier, Nicolas Siorak, Stéphanie Bonsch Buri and
Clémence Cornuz
Index 421
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Benedict Reade, Justine de Valicourt and Josh Evans
Nordic Food Lab
The Nordic Food Lab (NFL) is a self- governed found a tion based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The aim of NFL is to invest ig ate food diversity and deli
cious ness and to share the results
in an open- source format. We combine scientific and cultural approaches with culin ary tech-
niques from around the world to explore the edible poten tial of our region. We are intent on
chal len ging and broad en ing tastes while gener at ing and adapt ing prac tical ideas and methods
for those who make food and those who enjoy eating.
Food ferment a tion, as a highly diverse and complex set of phenom ena, is ripe for this sort
of inter dis cip lin ary, prac tical study. Our aim is to under stand the science and craft behind the
excep tional results obtained by the very best food produ cers and, by analys ing and exper i-
ment ing with this know ledge, to figure out how it can be reapplied to food produc tion in
new ways.
Fermentation defin i tion
A biochem ist might define ferment a tion as ‘a process performed by microor gan isms that
trans forms sugars into energy in the absence of oxygen’. Others adopt broader defin i tions of
ferment a tion, includ ing both the meta bolic processes of microor gan isms (with or without
oxygen), and also the action of chem ic als they produce (partic u larly enzymes, organic acids,
gases and volat ile compounds) of either plant or animal origin on a substrate (Nout, 2005). For
the good of this text, food ferment a tion will be broadly defined as the meta bolic processes
of microor gan isms as applied to food substrates for preser vat ive, gast ro nomic, health and
other bene fits.
During the produc tion of fermen ted foods, there are often other phys ical and chem ical
trans form a tions that are not directly related to the microbes’ meta bol ism yet nonethe less
affect the outcome of the final product. Examples include hydro lysis of macro molec ules by
enzymatic activ ity, oxid a tion from light or air, trans form a tion by heat, and mois ture loss.
These processes are import ant in the produc tion of certain foods, for example Maillard reac-
tions in soy sauce and cured meats, or enzymatic and oxid at ive processes in various teas.
While these processes are not direct results of ferment a tion itself, it is import ant to realise that
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Fermentation art and science at the Nordic Food Lab
Figure 21.1 The Nordic Food Lab.
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Benedict Reade, Justine de Valicourt and Josh Evans
they may both affect and be affected by ferment a tion kinet ics and are often vital to the organ-
o leptic char ac ter ist ics of the finished food product. A holistic under stand ing of fermen ted
foods must also include these processes, along with the myriad other factors that affect the
ferment a tion envir on ment and thus the ulti mate quality of the food.
Main func tions of ferment a tion with a focus on sustain ab il ity
This is the func tion most often cited for the devel op ment of fermen ted food tradi tions.
Many ferment at ive processes produce organic acids, ethanol or carbon dioxide or other bio-
preser vat ives such as nisin, which help to make the food patho gen ic ally stable (Ross et al.,
2002). These compounds make the envir on ment diffi cult to inhabit for unwanted micro-
organisms, allow ing the desir able microbes to become and remain domin ant instead of
patho genic compet it ors. These ferment at ive processes often take place ‘spon tan eously’ by
natur ally present microor gan isms; many ferment a tion tech niques thus likely began as chance
discov er ies, and were subsequently developed into more refined prac tice (McGovern, 2010).
Fermenting edible substrates often requires little to no further temper at ure treat ment – such
as freez ing, refri ger a tion, dehyd ra tion (hot or cold), pasteur isa tion or ster il isa tion – for preser-
va tion, and there fore fermen ted foods can often be made with a relat ively low energy
consump tion. Fermentation tech niques are thus ideal for remote areas and much of the devel-
op ing world, and also for lower ing energy consump tion world wide many ferment a tion
processes even gener ate energy. Fermentative food prepar a tions also have applic a tions during
a glut of a certain type of food. A clear example of this is when many cabbages are ready at
the same time – if one makes sauerkraut, possibly without even the addi tion of salt, the
cabbages can be eaten all year long.
Food ferment a tions usually contain organic acids. Especially when one considers the origins
of ferment a tion as soured/alco holic beer proto types/porridges and early breads (Braidwood
et al., 1953), the added sour taste would have served an import ant role in augment ing an essen-
tially bland diet. During ferment a tion, the break down of complex carbo hydrates into sugars,
proteins into peptides and free amino acids, and lipids into fatty acids and aromatic molecules
gives a much wider range of tastes, aromas and textures than would be avail able in the ingredi-
ents in their unfer men ted state. As flavour is the body’s way of recog nising nutri ents in the
envir on ment (Morini, 2007), it is unsur pris ing that this point of flavour devel op ment is
intrins ic ally linked to the bioavail ab il ity of nutri ents – as explored in brief below.
There is an expo nen tially broad en ing picture of how microbes and fermen ted foods affect
our health. Microbes break down molecules in the foods we eat, such as lactose in dairy
products and inulin and other less- digest ible fibres in veget ables. Fermentation can also
enhance vitamin and essen
tial amino acid content as well as produce bene cial anti mi cro bial
compounds. This increase in bioavail ab il ity of nutri ents means that foods that would other-
wise be quite poor in nutri ents can become very dense, just through the action of microbes
and time. They detox ify certain foods like cassava, whose cyano genic glyc os ides are rendered
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Fermentation art and science at the Nordic Food Lab
harm less in ferment a tions. This detox i fic a tion leads us to broaden our food choices, as some
foods that would other wise be pois on ous can be rid of toxins. Increasing the diversity of our
food choices has repeatedly been shown to increase the sustain ab il ity of food systems by
broad en ing our reli ance on any one food, thus lower ing specific pres sures on natural resources
and bolster ing ecolo gical resi li ence (Burlinghame and Dernini, 2012).
In many cases, fermen ted foods provide both probi otic and preb i otic func tions (Cutting,
2011; Moslehi-Jenabian et al., 2010). The microbes them selves in unpas teur ised foods some-
times come to popu late our gastrointest inal tract, provid ing numer ous bene ts while repro-
du cing and living in our bodies. Having a healthy ecology of bodily microbes is essen tial to
sustain ing human health; microbes living in our large intest ine outnum ber human cells in a
healthy human body by around 10:1, provid ing essen tial and diverse roles such as heightened
responses, diges tion and homeo stasis (Wallace et al., 2011).
Classification of fermen ted foods can be done by differ ent means – for example, by substrate,
by clas sical micro bial nomen clature, by human culture or geograph ical origin, by tech niques
used in produc tion (such as inocu la tion method) or, as is most frequently done, a mixture of
these methods.
At NFL we use a variety of methods to clas sify our ferment a tions, but perhaps the most
useful is simply the name of the final product that our ferment aims to emulate. However,
things quickly become complic ated when we start to carry out processes that, at least to our
know ledge, have never been carried out before. At this point a small amount of know ledge
of the micro bi o logy of similar fermen ted foods helps. For example, we know a bit about
sauerkraut, and we would like to carry out a similar process on some apples. We know that
in the sauerkraut we are trying to emulate, the domin ant form of ferment a tion is lactic
acid ferment a tion’, so we call our apples ‘lacto-
fermen ted apples’. This kind of clas si c a tion
removes the problem of identi fy ing the often incred ibly complex micro bial ecolo gies inside
the food stuff and allows us to describe new products by ‘func tional simil ar ity’ to exist ing
tech niques and tradi tions, rather than mainly by specific micro bial ecolo gies.
Classification by inocu la tion method
There are three main ways we can begin the process of ferment ing.
Backslopping has histor ic ally been the prin cipal method for inocu la tion. Backslopping is the
process of using an already success ful ferment to inocu late a new one. The assump tion is that
the exist ing ‘good microbes will colon ise the newly avail able nutri ents, repro du cing and
gener at ing a more-
or-less similar culture. Good examples are sour dough bread mothers and
some tradi tional vineg ars. Methods of perpetu ated ferments such as nuka or various brines
into which typic ally veget able substrates are submerged are similar in their ecology. This
gives rise to mixed, but very stable ecology of microbes in the food (Vogel and Ehrmann,
2010). Some ferments use multi-
stage back slop ping methods, which can be very complex
(Chen et al., 2008). Continual selec tion of success ful ferments means that, over time, microbes
are selec ted for bene cial char ac ter ist ics. This symbi otic evol u tion also in turn affects human
devel op ment (McGovern, 2010). This coevolu tion is a fascin at ing area of study.
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Wild- type ferment a tions
Wild- type ferment a tions use the microor gan isms found natur ally on the substrate and in the
surround ing envir on ment. Often, but not always, these ferments are begun by chan ging the
substrate’s phys ical and chem ical condi tions to select for a certain type of microbe that might
already be found in its natur ally occur ring mix. For example, adding salt to cabbage selects
for lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and against many patho gens. This method gives the least
consist ent and most surpris ing results (Katz, 2013).
Pure strain inocu la tion
Pure strain inocu la tion involves the addi tion of one or more known strains of microbes. This
method has only been avail able since the labor at ory cultiv a tion of microbes became a
developed and afford able tech nique. This process is used in almost all indus trial- scale food
ferment a tions. Many differ ent species can be used for inocu la tion, a good summary of which
can be found in Bourdichon et al. (2012). Although some results may lack char ac ter, this reli-
ab il ity can give the oppor tun ity for perfect ing recipes and tech nique over many batches.
Foods by applied micro bial family
Lactic acid ferment a tion
LAB are a broad category of microbes found in many foods includ ing pickled veget ables like
kimchi and sauerkraut, sour dough, salami, soy sauce, and fermen ted dairy products such as
cheese, villi or trahanas. Their unify ing char ac ter istic is their ability to produce lactic acid
as the main product of their meta bol ism of glucose thus creat ing an acidic envir on ment. By
lower ing pH, lactic acid protects the food against most patho genic bacteria and gives these
foods their char ac ter istic sour flavour.
The ferment a tion can be homolactic or hetero lactic. Homolactic ferment a tion trans forms
one molecule of glucose into two molecules of lactic acid, while hetero lactic ferment a tion
trans forms one molecule of glucose into one molecule of lactic acid, one molecule of ethanol,
and one molecule of carbon dioxide. This hetero lactic ferment a tion explains the light effer-
ves cence of some acid ified foods.
Homolactic ferment a tion: glucose = 2 lactic acid + energy
C6H12O6 = 2 C3H6O3 + 2 ATP
Heterolactic ferment a tion: glucose = lactic acid + ethanol + energy
C6H12O6 = C3H6O3 + C2H5OH + CO2 + 2 ATP
To ferment many veget ables using LAB, little more is needed than to add salt. Salt draws
mois ture out of the veget able matter by osmosis, which produces a brine: the submerged
veget ables are then in the neces sary oxygen- poor (but not completely anaer obic) envir on-
ment in which LAB thrive. LAB ferment a tions can occur across a wide range of salin ity,
from 0 per cent (many dairy products like yoghurt and sour cream) to 25 per cent (certain
seafood sauces in East Asia). We have found 2–2.5 per cent salt of the total weight of substrate
to be a good minimum salt concen tra tion to exper i ment with. This can be achieved by
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adding 2.5g of salt to 100g of substrate or with brine by adding 5g salt to 100g water, and
200g substrate.
LAB are microaero philes, meaning that they like to be in the pres ence of small amounts
of oxygen, but not too much. They are also typic ally meso philic, meaning that they like to
ferment at room temper at ure or slightly warmer. For this reason we carry out much of our
lactic ferment a tions in vacuum bags, which have been sealed just before reach ing full vacuum.
If a hetero lactic ferment a tion occurs, then CO2 produc tion may cause the bag to explode
– keep a close eye! It should also be noted that excess ive use of plastic vacuum bags is not a
sustain able prac tice; old- fash ioned brining, which we also utilise, is much less waste ful.
As the patho genic microbe Clostridium botulinum cannot produce toxins below pH 4.2, this
is gener ally regarded as a safe final acidity if it is reached quickly. Ferments can frequently be
cooled down to slow or stop the micro bial activ ity at pH 4.6 and the pH will continue to drop
for a period, reach ing a final pH of 4.2.
While we enjoy lacto-
ferment ing all manner of veget ables and dairy (Reade, 2013), other
excit ing exper i ments involving LAB include various fermen ted sauces. Incidentally, they are
also a perfect example of a mixed micro bial culture in action. Fermented sauces such as fish
sauce and other protein- rich sauces are made partly through a process of lactic acid and some-
times alco holic ferment a tions. These occur along side the enzymatic break down of proteins
(proteo lysis). In the case of fish sauce, added salt prevents the growth of undesired microbes
so halo philic (halo – salt, philicliking) LAB can domin ate the substrate. Through osmosis,
the salt draws water from the fish, creat ing a brine in which proteo lysis occurs. Enzymes of
the fish’s flesh and digest ive tracts flow into the brine and proteo lysis causes the solu tion to
become a ‘soup’ of free amino acids giving the sauce its char ac ter istic umami taste.
Figure 21.2 Fermenting veget ables.
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Acetic acid ferment a tion
Vinegar, a solu tion of acetic acid and water and hope fully some resid ual sugar and aromatic
compounds, is often considered a poor cousin in the realm of fermen ted foods. Yet
when made with the right know ledge and aims, vinegar can be a high- quality and valu able
product, as in the case of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, which reaches prices in excess
of 1/ml.
As ethanol is a product of a first ferment a tion mostly done by yeast, vinegar is a product of
a double and mixed ferment a tion. Vinegar can be obtained from any raw mater ial that has
under gone an alco holic ferment a tion. A good vinegar is normally achieved from an alcohol
concen tra tion of 5–9 per cent; however both stronger and weaker solu tions can produce
excel lent results. In an acetic ferment a tion, acetic acid bacteria (AAB) convert ethyl alcohol
(ethanol) into acetic acid, the essen tial char ac ter istic of vinegar. This occurs in the pres ence
of oxygen:
ethanol + oxygen = acetic acid + water + energy
C2H5OH + O2 = CH3COOH + H2O + 8–13 ATP
Classic vineg ars as we know them in the West are made by a number of methods. These can
be divided roughly into two groups: slow, tradi tional tech niques where attain ing a finished
vinegar may take from one month to many years; and rapid tech niques, which make vinegar
from ‘wine’ in as little as six hours.
AAB will prolif er ate much more easily if some vinegar is mixed in with the alco holic
ferment, thereby acid i fy ing the wine and creat ing an envir on ment where the AAB thrive.
This addi tion is normally carried out using a mature batch of unpas teur ised vinegar made
from the same source (back slop ping!). If this is done with unpas teur ised vinegar it is also a
means by which to inocu late the ‘wine’ with the correct AAB strains. As AAB are ubiquit ous,
if an alco holic solu tion of appro pri ate concen tra tion is left open to the air, it will even tu ally
turn to vinegar, regard less of inocu la tion.
The most famous slow method of vinegar produc tion is the Orleans method. Barrels are
half- lled with a mixture of around 80 per cent wine and 20 per cent live, unpas teur ised
vinegar, and ferment a tion is carried out by the AAB, which, in warm condi tions, will
meta bol ise all the alcohol in a 9 per cent ethanol wine in one to three months. When
fully acid i ed, the vinegar is siphoned off, leaving around 12L inside a 225L barrel. This is
then again half- filled with fresh ‘wine’, allow ing the maximum surface area to be exposed
to air. To make sure the AAB have as much oxygen avail able as possible, holes are drilled
through the ends of the barrel which are then covered with muslin. This same process can
be carried out at home with a large, wide-
mouthed jar covered in muslin – a great way to use
leftover wine.
We are exper i ment ing with the tradi tional method for balsamic vinegar produc tion,
except using quinces instead of grapes as the initial substrate. The result is an intense, resin ous
vinegar that has beau ti ful notes of dried figs and sherry. Another success ful recipe involves
elder flower wine macer ated with elder ber ries and then left to oxidise into vinegar, creat ing a
sweeter, layered elder vinegar with good aging poten tial. We have also exper i mented with
rapid aera tion methods that can give us vinegar in four to five days and from less tradi tional
ingredi ents that have less resid ual sugar to start with, such as herbs, roots, mush rooms and
trees. While the rapid method works well for proto typ ing and indus trial produc tion, the slow
methods will invari ably yield the most complex and deli
cious final products.
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Alkaline ferment a tions
A lesser- known group of ferment a tions, alkaline ferment a tions involve aerobic endospore-
forming bacteria (AEB). These foods provide protein-
rich, low-
cost condi ments for millions
of people in south- east Asia and Africa (FAO, 1998). The Bacillus genus, with B. subtilis as the
most common species, is capable of hydro lys ing proteins into amino acids and ammonia. The
ammonia increases the alka lin ity up to a pH of 9, protect ing the food against bacterial spoil age
and giving the char ac ter istic ammo ni ated smell. This type of ferment a tion normally uses
legumes or seeds, as they are rich in proteins (Wang and Fung, 1996; Parkouda et al., 2009).
known examples of alkaline ferment a tions include Japanese natto, the rind on washed-
rind cheeses and West African dawadawa or soum bala. NFL has not yet exper i mented very
much with alkaline ferment a tion – it is a vast world yet to explore.
Many yeasts are able to produce energy in both aerobic and anaer obic condi tions. In food,
yeasts are primar ily used under anaer obic condi tions which will yield ethanol and CO2.
Yeasts thus give rise to almost all alco holic bever ages (the Mexican drink pulque is an
excep tion, as most of its alcohol is produced by a bacterium, Zymomonas mobilis (Steinkraus,
1983)). Leavened bread is also made using yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) – the CO2 creates the
bubbles in the bread, and the alcohol evap or ates during baking.
Figure 21.3 Vinegar aera tion system.
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The skins of sugary fruits are typic ally covered in a thin layer of wild yeasts (and other
microbes). This means that as the fruit ripens, these yeasts consume avail able sugars. To make
a wild- fermen ted alcohol, it is often enough just to leave the juices of sugar- rich fruits in
contact with the skins for a while – this brief contact should be enough to initi ate alco holic
ferment a tion. Once the yeasts begin trans form ing the sugars an airlock system should be
used, allow ing CO2 to escape without allow ing oxygen to enter.
The most commonly domest ic ated yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, natur ally found on fruit
skins and other sugar- rich mater ial. Due to their vari ations in alcohol toler ance and enzyme
produc tion, differ ent strains of S. cerevisiae produce varying quant it ies of ethanol and CO2 and
at differ ent speeds, which has given rise to differ ent applic a tions in baking and brewing since
ancient times (it is also likely that differ ent human activ it ies have in turn selec ted for these
func tional differ ences, enhan cing natur ally occur ring vari ation). Yeasts also play a role in the
ferment a tion of dairy products such as kefir, as well as in cacao and coffee (Boekhout and
Robert, 2003: 24). The genus Saccharomyces also contains other species (e.g., S. bayanus and
S. pastor i anus) that play an import ant part in processes of making bread, beer, wine and other
alco hols. There are in addi tion many other yeasts involved in the ferment a tion of various
other foods and drinks (Querol and Fleet, 2006).
Filamentous fungi/moulds
A huge diversity of fungi are involved in fermen ted dairy produc tion (Ropars et al., 2012).
Fermented meat products are simil arly complex (Spotti and Berni, 2007) and although we
exper i ment with both meat and dairy, much of our explor a tion into the realm of fila ment ous
fungi has been else where.
As discussed earlier, fish guts offer one source of proteo lytic enzymes for the produc tion of
rich, protein-
based sauces. Another way of harness ing hydro lytic enzymes comes from
fila ment ous fungi (mould) grown on cooked grains or pulses. Koji in Japan, nuruk and meju in
Korea, qu in China – these mould-
based tech niques are loosely but func tion ally related. The
most common fungus used in this tech nique, and the predom in ant one in Japanese koji, is
Aspergillus oryzae. A. sojae, Monascus purpureus and other species are also used (Steinkraus, 2004).
The mould produces many hydro lys ing enzymes that can break down proteins, fats and starches
(Chen et al., 2008). The umami taste arises through the break ing down of proteins into their
build ing blocks of amino acids, thus creat ing free glutamic acid, the main molecule that bonds
with the umami taste buds and enriches the flavour. Umami can also be found in other ferment-
a tions where some proteins are hydro lysed, such as in old cheeses, cured meats and fish sauce.
Some of our most deli cious recipes have been a sauce fermen ted in the soy sauce style with
barley koji and yellow peas; a miso made in a similar fashion; Roman- style garums made with
all manner of animal proteins includ ing pheas ant, hare, grasshop per and wax moth larvae; and
‘koji- chovies’ – herrings fermen ted to achieve an effect similar to anchovies. Although their
tradi tional analogues may not have involved koji, at NFL all of these projects do so.
In addi tion to umami applic a tions, mould- based sacchari fic a tion processes also form the
basis of grain-
based wines such as makgeolli, sake, amazake and li (Shurtleff and Aoyagi, 2012).
Beyond its use for sacchari fic a tion and proteo lytic break down, we have also been exper i-
ment ing with koji tech no logy for its flavour devel op ment. Growing koji on barley and other
grains yields a range of fruity, nutty and mush roomy avours. Resulting koji can then be
roasted, allow ing us to obtain a whole range of toasted flavours akin to chocol ate or coffee.
We are currently devel op ing versions of these products involving blends of fermen ted and
unfer men ted Nordic ingredi ents, which are mixed with roasted kojis.
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Another applic a tion of fila ment ous fungi involves the mould Aspergillus niger, the predom-
in ant fungus in Pu-
erh tea which gives it many of its mossy, earthy char ac ter ist ics. We are
currently invest ig at ing the use of this mould on Nordic plant parts to produce fermen ted
tisanes that evoke Pu-
erh in method but have ulti mately their own char ac ter.
Very mixed ferment a tions
Most tradi tional food ferment a tions contain many species of microor gan ism. These micro bial
ecolo gies develop and can be highly stable, such as in the case of sour dough mothers (Vogel
and Ehrmann, 2010), or they may fluc tu ate as popu la tions of differ ent species rise and fall.
One example would be the moromi stage of a soy sauce ferment. First, the salt in the moromi
brine kills off species (such as the koji moulds), which are not toler ant to the changed osmotic
pres sure. Next, halo tol er ant yeast (Zygosaccharomyces rouxii) species that create alcohol begin
to thrive, and as they consume avail able sugars, a species of LAB (Tetragenococcus halo philus)
begins to acidify the solu tion as the yeasts subside (Steinkraus, 2004).
A further example of a mixed fermen ted food is kombucha. Kombucha is a bever age
typic ally made with black tea, sweetened with 5–15 per cent sucrose, and set to ferment at
25–30 °C for 10–12 days with a symbi otic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) (Sreeramulu
et al., 2000; Dufresne and Farnworth, 2000). Inoculation of new batches uses either about
10 per cent of kombucha from a previ ous batch, or a piece of the mother. The brewing vessel
is covered with a clean, coarsely woven cloth to keep out insects and debris while allow ing
aera tion (Greenwalt et al., 1998).
The jelly sh-
like mother produced by Acetobacter xylinum is often called ‘tea fungus’
(Mo et al., 2008).
Figure 21.4 Kombucha mother.
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Figure 21.5 Venison Fenalår.
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Although much super sti tion surrounds the pres ence or absence of the mother, the func-
tional microbes are present also in the liquid and the float ing membrane is in fact only a
visible mani fest a tion of the yeast–bacteria symbi osis – the zoogleal mat ( Jayabalan et al., 2010;
Sreeramulu et al., 2000). The cellu lose is a second ary meta bol ite of the ferment a tion, similar
in struc ture to a ‘mother of vinegar’ (Jayabalan et al., 2010). The exact micro bial compos i tion
depends on the source, condi tion and treat ment of the kombucha culture (Sreeramulu et al.,
We have exper i mented quite extens ively with kombucha, explor ing flavour ing agents and
differ ent ferment able substrates. Particularly inter est ing and success ful recipes have included
kombuchas of juniper wood, boletus mush rooms, lemon verbena and carrot.
Fenalår is an old Norwegian tradi tion for preserving sheep’s leg. We have taken this tradi tion
and elab or ated it quite a bit, mixing in mummi c a tion tech niques and other layers of ferment-
a tion to yield a product that is as complex as it is unique and deli cious. We under take the
process on a leg of roe deer. The process involves rubbing the venison leg with yoghurt whey;
leaving it at 5 °C overnight; rubbing the leg with juniper dust and salt (around 2 per cent of
weight); leaving it at 2 °C for seven days; rubbing the leg with spruce resin tinc ture; hanging
the leg at 2 °C for four days; placing the leg in a cold smoker for four days; remov ing and
hanging for two months; dipping into rendered deer fat; leaving a further two months;
dipping into melted beeswax; leaving a further two months; then remov ing the wax, slicing
thinly and enjoy ing. This is a very mixed ferment a tion that likely involves LAB, yeasts,
enzymatic break down of proteins and fats, oxid a tion, mois ture loss, surface moulds of varying
descrip tions and the produc tion of a whole host of second ary meta bol ites and is a perfect
example of complex micro bial ecology in action.
Microbes are one of the most power ful tools we have to create foods that are diverse, deli-
cious, nour ish ing and speak genu inely of their place in the world. We have been evolving
along side microbes since before our emer gence as a species and will continue to do so into
the future. Engaging in the ferment a tion of food is one of the most excit ing ways to engage
directly in this coevolu tion. Using scientific methods to learn more about the complex ity of
micro bial ecology in fermen ted foods, paired with a gast ro nomic sens ib il ity and a desire to
eat well, allows us to exper i ment, keeping food tradi tions alive and explor ing ways to situate
them in contem por ary food systems and cultures.
We are continu ally discov er ing new applic a tions for pure strain microor gan isms and wild
mixed ecolo gies, and new tech niques to make the most of tradi tional and innov at ive tools and
tech niques. Visit our website, www.nordic food, for more inform a tion on all of the
above and to follow our ongoing research.
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... They were engaging in sustainable food practices much like ecological citizens described by Roe and Buser (2016) but with the inclusion of a microbial focus. While fermented foods and beverages are definitely en vogue in the culinary world that creates market value for fermented products (exemplified by the very popular restaurant Noma in Copenhagen written about by Reade, de Valicourt, and Evans [2015]), in conversations at the workshop, the values and interests of the organizers and participants denoted something different. Conversations reflected concerns about destruction caused by industrialization, modernization, and capitalism more broadly, and antibiotics and standardization of food more specifically. ...
The ethnographic focus of this paper is a group of sourdough bakers based in Finland, with a specific view on a fermentation workshop in 2019. In this workshop, emerging human-microbe relations were drawn, bringing attention to a post-antibiotic world. Studying bread making necessitates a more-than-human analysis that foregrounds microbes as central characters situated in the political climate of increasing populism and the Anthropocene. In this paper I describe bakers, termed microbiohackers, putting forward critiques of capitalism that link ecological extraction, political oppression, and industrial food production. Crafting an alternative to the dominant public health narrative of microbes as a threat and antimicrobial resistance, I use the notion of diffraction to discuss the complex entanglements of the microbial/material and social/political. In the hands of the bakers, fermentation, sourdough, and antimicrobial resistance present an opportunity to question dualisms of how microbes are thought about and to create emergent post-antibiotic futures. © 2021 The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.
... The key is to understand that a prototype need only be a stepping stone to develop your ideas, they need not be perfect. We have used faster versions of vinegar fermentation that bypassed steps in the standard vinegar production to reach vinegar prototypes that were useful to evaluate many different versions (Johnson, 2013;Reade et al., 2015), and we have used rapid prototyping to create many different version of long-term fermentations with koji (Evans, 2016). These approaches combined can be framed as Food Design Thinking. ...
A frame for successful interdisciplinary collaboration between chefs and scientists is suggested based on the author's experience and background. The author is former director of the now closed Nordic Food Lab. The learning potentials for both parties in these types of collaborations are elaborated.
... At Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit in Copenhagen where I worked that investigates the gastronomic potential of the Nordic region, we would often -though we did not necessarily think about it this way at the time -propose potential landscapes to our microbial collaborators and see which ones co-responded most with their desires. 6 Once, in the autumn of 2012, a colleague and I began twelve experimental trials of salt-rich, umami-oriented fermented sauces, modelled after soy sauces but containing various configurations of grains, legumes, and other flavourful additions like mushrooms, berries, leaves, or wood ( Figure 2). We combined these ingredients in a semi-structured way, ensuring that each had similar ratios of starchy, proteinous, and aromatic ingredients, similar levels of salt and moisture, and fermented together on a similar schedule under the same conditions. ...
Full-text available
The consumption of cultivated berry species (e.g., strawberries, blueberries) has increased dramatically in the last two decades after consumers appreciated them as flavorful, convenient and healthy fruits. Wild berries and similar small wild fruits are traditionally consumed around the world by local people as safe, nutritious, tasty, and versatile foods. These wild fruits have played an important role in the nutrition and bio-cultural aspects of rural communities. Like their commercial counterparts, wild berries contain important nutrients and bioactive compounds that may prevent or delay some chronic diseases attributed to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. This review provides a comprehensive appraisal of the chemical and bioactive components in wild berry species and their traditional uses as foods around the globe. Presently, wild berries and similar wild small fruits are novel food sources that inspire applications as culinary products, processed foods, and nutraceuticals. Further research is needed to validate the content and action of bioactive components responsible for health claims. Sustainable commercial exploitation of wild berries should consider biocultural, environmental, and socio-economic aspects.
Full-text available
Besides being important in the fermentation of foods and beverages, yeasts have shown numerous beneficial effects on human health. Among these, probiotic effects are the most well known health effects including prevention and treatment of intestinal diseases and immunomodulatory effects. Other beneficial functions of yeasts are improvement of bioavailability of minerals through the hydrolysis of phytate, folate biofortification and detoxification of mycotoxins due to surface binding to the yeast cell wall.
Details about this book can be accessed on my website, under "Books@:
Conference Paper
Preservation of food and beverages resulting from fermentation has been an effective form of extending the shelf-life of foods for millennia. Traditionally, foods were preserved through naturally occurring fermentations, however, modem large scale production generally now exploits the use of defined strain starter systems to ensure consistency and quality in the final product. This review will mainly focus on the use of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) for food improvement, given their extensive application in a wide range of fermented foods. These microorganisms can produce a wide variety of antagonistic primary and secondary metabolites including organic acids, diacetyl, CO2 and even antibiotics such as reuterocyclin produced by Lactobacillus reuteri. In addition, members of the group can also produce a wide range of bacteriocins, some of which have activity against food pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium botulinum. Indeed, the bacteriocin nisin has been used as an effective biopreservative in some dairy products for decades, while a number of more recently discovered bacteriocins, such as lacticin 3147, demonstrate increasing potential in a number of food applications. Both of these lactococcal bacteriocins belong to the lantibiotic family of posttranslationally modified bacteriocins that contain lanthionine, P-methyllanthionine and dehydrated amino acids. The exploitation of such naturally produced antagonists holds tremendous potential for extension of shelf-life and improvement of safety of a variety of foods.
Kombucha is a refreshing beverage obtained by the fermentation of sugared tea with a symbiotic culture of acetic bacteria and fungi, consumed for its beneficial effects on human health. Research conducted in Russia at the beginning of the century and testimony indicate that Kombucha can improve resistance against cancer, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote digestive functions, stimulate the immune system, reduce inflammatory problems, and can have many other benefits. In this paper, we report on studies that shed more light on the properties of some constituents of Kombucha. The intensive research about the effects of tea on health provide a good starting point and are summarized to get a better understanding of the complex mechanisms that could be implicated in the physiological activity of both beverages.
This Chapter Contains Section Titled:
In China there is a proverb saying that, in daily life, the seven indispensable substances are firewood, rice, edible oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea. From this proverb, we can see the vinegar has a very important position in Chinese daily life. In the historical literature, we find that vinegar originated more than 3000 years ago in China. It is reported that the first written mention of vinegar was in 1058 BC in a book named Zhou Li about the rites of the Zhou Dynasty, and a professional workshop for vinegar making appeared in the Chunqiu Dynasty (770–476 BC) (Zhao, 2004; Hu, 2005; Zhao and Li, 2005; Shen, 2007). At that time, vinegar was so costly that only the rich noblemen could afford it. Vinegar first became popular with ordinary people in the Donghan Dynasty (25–220 AD) (Shen, 2007). Up until the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420–581 AD), a book named Qi Ming Yao Shu, about the essential techniques of farming, written by Sixie Jia, recorded in detail 23 different methods for brewing vinegars (Zhao, 2004; Hu, 2005).
Antimicrobial activities of microbial fermented tea are much less known than its health beneficial properties. These antimicrobial activities are generated in natural microbial fermentation process with tea leaves as substrates. The antimicrobial components produced during the fermentation process have shown inhibitory effects against several food-borne and pathogenic bacteria. With the trend of increasing use of natural and biological preservatives in food products, natural antimicrobial agents from microbial fermented tea may offer an innovative and interesting measure for such applications. However, a breakthrough in this field can only be realised after several critical aspects are clarified and further studied. Only then, the application of these potential, novel and natural antimicrobial substances from microbial fermented tea can be industrialized. The present review describes some unique microbial fermentation of tea and the antimicrobial activities formed during the fermentation process. Moreover, future needs in research and development of these antimicrobial compounds from microbial fermentation of tea are discussed for potential industrial applications.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in appropriate amounts. Over 700 randomized, controlled, human studies have been conducted with probiotics thus far, with the results providing strong support for the use of probiotics in the clinical prevention or treatment of gastrointestinal tract disorders and metabolic syndrome. The present review is based on webinar presentations that were developed by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) in partnership with the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) and the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI North America). The presentations provided gastroenterologists and researchers with fundamental and current scientific information on the influence of gut microbiota on human health and disease, as well as clinical intervention strategies and practical guidelines for the use of probiotics and prebiotics.