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Fermentation demystified


I love Earthineer.com. Founder Dan Adams has one awesome site which is all about self sustainability. And mead making. And DIY solar energy. And making your own spa products.  And preserving. And how to raise just about anything, both in the ground and on 2 or 4 feet!  No kidding, Dan’s passionate about his calling. I’m passionate about his site!

For example, here’s a very detailed explanation of the chemistry of fermentation. Below that are recipes from our Earthineer’s fermentation expert, Jereme Zimmerman. He’s a published author with his book “Make Mead like a Viking.”

I also have a nice recipe for kimchi that I need to pull from my files for you – later.


Fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases, or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria, and also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation. Fermentation is also used more broadly to refer to the bulk growth of microorganisms on a growth medium, often with the goal of producing a specific chemical product. French microbiologist Louis Pasteur is often remembered for his insights into fermentation and its microbial causes. The science of fermentation is known as zymology. Fermentation takes place when the electron transport chain is unusable (often due to lack of a final electron receptor, such as oxygen), and becomes the cell’s primary means of ATP (energy) production. It turns NADH and pyruvate produced in glycolysis into NAD+ and an organic molecule (which varies depending on the type of fermentation; see examples below). In the presence of O2, NADH and pyruvate are used to generate ATP in respiration. This is called oxidative phosphorylation, and it generates much more ATP than glycolysis alone. For that reason, cells generally benefit from avoiding fermentation when oxygen is available, the exception being obligate anaerobes which cannot tolerate oxygen. The first step, glycolysis, is common to all fermentation pathways: C6H12O6 + 2 NAD+ + 2 ADP + 2 Pi → 2 CH3COCOO− + 2 NADH + 2 ATP + 2 H2O + 2H+ Pyruvate is CH3COCOO−. Pi is inorganic phosphate. Two ADP molecules and two Pi are converted to two ATP and two water molecules via substrate-level phosphorylation. Two molecules of NAD+ are also reduced to NADH. In oxidative phosphorylation the energy for ATP formation is derived from an electrochemical proton gradient generated across the inner mitochondrial membrane (or, in the case of bacteria, the plasma membrane) via the electron transport chain. Glycolysis has substrate-level phosphorylation (ATP generated directly at the point of reaction). Humans have used fermentation to produce food and beverages since the Neolithic age. For example, fermentation is used for preservation in a process that produces lactic acid as found in such sour foods as pickled cucumbers, kimchi and yogurt (see fermentation in food processing), as well as for producing alcoholic beverages such as wine (see fermentation in winemaking) and beer. Fermentation can even occur within the stomachs of animals, such as humans.

Yetichi (AKA Kimchi)

Sima: Finnish Sparkling Lemon ‘Mead’

Fermented Dilly Vegetables


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