> Korean Fermented Foods > Introduction of Fermented
Foods > Fermentation
What is Fermentation?
‘‘Fermentation’ is a process of producing
a unique final product by that microorganisms degrade or
change organic substances with their enzymes. The English
word, ‘fermentation’ is originated from a Latin
word, ‘ferverve’, which expresses that the food
seems to be boiling over by the microorganisms’ action
Fermentation is a process that has been known to and used
by men throughout
human history and has been used by men experientially and
traditionally in manufacturing the fruit wine, beer, bread,
cheese, and so on.
Yeast was used for producing beer in 6,000 BC, mold has
been used for making cheese, and acetobacters for manufacturing
vinegar for a long time. Our ancestors, too, developed fermented
foods and enjoyed their various and harmonious flavors for
ages. The kinds of fermented foods favored by Koreans are
the Jangs, Kimchi (Gimchi), Jeotgal, vinegar, Sikhye, drinks,
and so on.
Principles of Fermentation
Although the principles of fermentation had not been known
until the 19th century, the father of the modern chemistry,
A. L. Lavoisier noted down around in 1787 that the process
that the glucose in grape juice quantitatively gets degraded
into alcohol and carbon dioxide is the fermentation. As
the 19th century began, there arose a severe dispute between
the catalysis theory on fermentation by famous chemists
like J. J. Berzelius or J. Liebig and the yeast theory on
it by microbiologists centered on L. Pasteur.
Pasteur denied the theory of spontaneous generation and
came to conclude that fermentation was the ‘microorganisms’
living without oxygen’ at the same time, after the
studies through close experiments on the lactic acid fermentation
of milk and alcohol fermentation of sugar in 1857.
However, after his death, E. Buchner observed the fermentation
of sucrose by the yeast extraction without living cells
in 1897, so he proved that fermentation is the catalysis
After that, many enzyme chemists including A. Harden and
Young in the early 1900’s continuously discovered
and categorized the enzymes and coenzymes involved in the
yeast extract fermentation that the fermentation process
came to be explained scientifically.