What are fermentation, decay, and maturation?

Hello everyone!

This is Yoneyama from Komedoriming.

This time, I'd like to talk about fermentation, decay, and maturation, as I love fermented foods such as amazake, cheese, shio-koji, soy sauce, and miso.

Fermented foods are really delicious!

Cheese is delicious when eaten as is, but I also love using salt koji in cooking as it softens ingredients better than simply adding salt.

Fermented foods have a strong image of being healthy and delicious, but what exactly goes into them?

What is the difference between fermentation, decay, and maturation?

First of all, what is fermentation?

Fermentation is the process of breaking down the carbohydrates, proteins, etc. contained in food using lactic acid bacteria, koji mold, etc. to create different foods.

The image that is easy to understand is,

We make miso by fermenting soybeans with koji mold,

Amazake is made by fermenting rice with koji mold.

Because koji mold is a living organism, depending on the condition of the bacteria, some days it tastes sweeter and other days it tastes sour as the fermentation progresses. I find it fascinating how the same food can taste differently depending on the day.

So far we have been writing about fermentation, but what are the phenomena of spoilage and maturation?

Decay is the process by which food is broken down by microorganisms and becomes toxic or useless.

It definitely has a strange smell and taste.

I too have had the experience of leaving amazake indoors during the summer and it going bad...

This is exactly what corruption is.

That is why proper management of fermentation is so important.

Next, let's talk about maturation.

After fermentation is complete, the temperature and humidity are controlled and the food is left to rest to produce foods with different flavors, aromas, and firmness.

Examples of things that are easy to imagine include wine that is a certain number of years old or cheese.

Because it takes so much time and effort, the prices are clearly different and it makes me realize once again that this is a very deep world.

I like alcohol and drink it often, and I find it interesting how the taste of the same wine changes depending on the number of years it's aged.

I would love to try some wine or cheese made in the year I was born someday.

There are many different types of fermented foods, and it is said that whether you like them or not depends on personal subjectivity, history, etc.

For example, some foreigners love natto, while some Japanese people don't like it very much.

When I saw videos on YouTube and other video sites introducing how to make homemade yogurt and fresh cheese using commercially available raw milk, I had always wanted to try it, but was unsure whether it would actually be possible.

However, now that I understand the difference in the phenomenon, I think I can make it myself, so I'll give it a go on my next day off!

Fermented foods around the world

So far, I have written about what fermentation and maturation are, in the first place.

From here on, we will tell you what kind of fermented foods are specifically.

There are nine main types of fermented foods.

Condiments: soy sauce, miso, vinegar, mirin, shio-koji, doubanjiang, gochujang, etc.

Vegetables: pickled vegetables, kimchi, pickles, zha cai, etc.

Beans: Natto, stinky tofu, etc.

Fish: dried bonito, kusaya, salted fish, etc.

Meat: prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, chorizo, etc.

Dairy products: yogurt, cheese, etc.

Alcoholic drinks: sake, beer, wine, makgeolli, shochu, whiskey, gin, tequila, etc.

Beverages: Amazake, black tea, pu-erh tea, etc.

Bread and desserts: bread, nata de coco, chocolate, etc.

Personally, I had the impression that most seasonings were fermented foods, but I was surprised to learn that chorizo, chocolate, and nata de coco are also fermented foods, and that fermented foods are widely eaten all over the world!

In Japan in particular, there is a wide range of fermented foods, from solid foods such as fish to seasonings.

Why has the culture of fermented foods developed so much?

I did some research and found that

・Japan is an island nation and has a lot of fish.

- Hot and humid climate

- Because there are many Buddhists, they eat fish instead of meat

It is said that for these reasons, fish was preserved for a long time by salting it.

During this time, soy sauce and shiokara were invented and are still used today.

It's interesting to see how differences in eating habits have arisen depending on Japan's unique climate and history.

Fermentation is the process by which proteins and other substances are broken down by various bacteria to produce different substances.
Considering Japan's climate and history, I was surprised to learn that Japan has a lot of fermented foods, especially fermented seafood foods!

Now that I understand the difference between fermentation, decay, and maturation, I'm going to try my hand at making amazake on my next day off, being careful about temperature and humidity!

Why not try incorporating fermented foods into your life?

Reference: " https://www.hakko-blend.com/study/whats/02/ "

Reference: " https://www.hakko-blend.com/study/whats/09/index.html "


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