There are so many types of fermentation. Here are the 10 main types of fermented food cultures along with some simple recipes that you can try at home.
Whether you are using yeast, bacteria or mold to make fermented foods, fermentation is healthy, delicious and fun. How many of these different types of fermentation have you tried?
Yeast breaks down sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 is what makes beer bubbly and causes bread to rise.
While yeast is part of a number of symbiotic cultures, only alcoholic ferments are made from yeast alone.
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, cider and other alcoholic ferments were all traditionally made with wild yeasts. Nowadays we use specific strains of yeast that are optimized for vigour and flavour.
Bacteria are what most people think of when they talk about fermented foods. Bacterial cultures convert sugars into acids. And bacterial fermentation is why both sauerkraut and yogurt are sour.
There are a lot of different strains of bacterial cultures, however, the two main types of bacterial cultures are lactic bacteria and acetic acid bacteria (which is below, under symbiotic cultures).
- Lactic Bacteria: Most types of fermented dairy start with a lactic culture. This includes yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk and cheese. As well, most vegetables come in from the garden with their own lactic bacterial culture. It’s why it is so easy to make sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables.
Many types of fermentation start with a symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria. These cultures both acidify and create alcohol and CO2. This gives the resulting ferments a unique flavour.
- Sourdough bread is made from a free-range culture of yeast and bacteria that is easily caught by leaving a mixture of flour and water out on your counter for a few days.
- Kombucha is made from a SCOBY that thrives on brewed black tea and sugar. Tthe sealed bottled beverages in your grocery store are nothing like truly fermented kombucha tea. Homemade kombucha is sweet and sour, sparkling and probiotic.
- Jun is similar to kombucha, however, a Jun SCOBY lives on green tea and honey.
- Water kefir is made with tiny grains that eat sucrose and molasses. The result is a sparkling probiotic beverage, that is sweeter than kombucha.
- Milk kefir is made from kefir grains, and the resulting beverage is thick, sour and lightly sparkling. Again, homemade kefir is not the same as store-bought kefir, which usually contains just bacterial cultures.
- Apple cider mother: REAL apple cider vinegar is made from a mother that is a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast. It’s easy to get an ACV mother by buying properly fermented vinegar. I recommend the following brands: Viva Naturals, Braggs and Dynamic Health.
There are a few different types of ferments that rely on mold to breakdown sugar and proteins. Here are two popular mold ferments.
- Koji kin is a mold that is used to ferment rice or barley. It is the culture that is at the heart of MANY Japanese ferments including sake and miso.
- Tempeh is an Indonesian mold culture that is traditionally used to ferment soybeans turning it into a mushroom-like cake. It can also be used to ferment other high-protein grains and nuts.