A brief history of fermentation

Photo: Rising bubbles from yeast fermentation, By Jim Champion (Flickr: Rising bubbles) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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When?

What Products?

Where?

Ancient Times

7000 BC

Beer and wine

Assyria, Caucasia, Mesopotamia, Sumer

6000 BC

Wine making

Georgia

5000 BC

Wine jars (artifacts)

Iran

3000 BC

Beer and fermented milk products

Babylon

2600 BC

Bread

Egypt

1000 BC

Soy sauce & miso

China

600 BC

Cheese

Asia

500 BC

Preservation of fish & meat

 

100 BC

Bread

Ancient Rome

Modern Times

1700s

Vinegar from fruit pulp (remains of grapes, olives, or other fruit after pressing for juice or oil); Gallic acid

 

1800s

Yeast induced fermentation

Germany

1850s

  • Bacteria produce lactic acid which preserves food
  • Pasteurization – heat treatment to prevent unwanted fermentation
  • Yeast + Grape juice = wine; the beginning of the science of food fermentation

France – Louis Pasteur

Late 1800s

Composting

 

1900s

Aseptic fermentation (no unwanted organisms)

 

New Fermentations

1900 - 1920s

Industrial production of acetone, butanol, butanodiol – substrates for rubber production

United Kingdom, Germany , Russia

1930s

Development of biotechnological methods of organic acid production – citric & gluconic acid

 

1940s

Industrial production of organic acids

 

1945 - 1950

Industrial penicillin production, the first bacterial antibiotic; first large scale production of pharmaceuticals

United States

1950s - 1960s

Steroid transformations by fungal spores

 

1960s

Commercial production of amino acids using fermentation; production of MSG, a flavour enhancer

Japan

1960 - 1980s

Mycotoxins, treatment and reuse of wastes

 

1970s

Enzymes produced by microbes for use in detergents, grain processing, sugar production and fruit juice clarification

World-wide

1980s

Genetic Engineering techniques – Insulin production

United Kingdom

Table adapted from: EOLSS. Fermentation Products (Accessed August 14, 2012)

Laura Brown

Laura is an Education Specialist with Let’s Talk Science. With a background in agricultural sciences and visual arts, she is interested in most everything, from pigs to Picasso! She developed her love of science and technology from her parents and teachers.



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