What is fermentation ?? How it works ?? What are its favorable conditions ??
The term ‘fermentation’ was initially associated with the decomposition and rotting of food stuffs. It is now considered to be a physiological process in which micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi metabolize the substrate with the help of enzymes to produce sugars, acids, alcohols and gases.
- Souring of milk and kneaded flour,
- curdling of curds,
- fermentation of batter for the preparation of idli and dosa,
- conversion of fruit juices and sugars into wine,
- rotting of fruits and vegetables,
- putrefaction of meat
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The life processes of micro-organisms like bacteria, yeast and moulds is being utilised to manufacture large number of chemicals like alcohol, acetone, acetic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, antibiotics and vitamins which are of great synthetic and industrial significance.
Fermentation is also used to cure tea leaves, tobacco; produce indigo dye, coffee; prepare benzaldehyde or oil of bitter almonds from amygdalin contained in the almond seed, preserve sour food like pickled cucumbers.
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Favorable conditions for fermentation :
- Temperature : The optimum temperature for fermentation is 25–35 °C. At high temperature, the enzymes are destroyed and at low temperature, generally below 20 °C, they become inactive and the process becomes very slow.
- Concentration : High concentration of the solution renders the enzyme inactive. The process proceeds at an optimal rate only in sufficiently dilute solutions.
- Presence of other substances : Since the process is carried by microorganisms, any substance which provides nourishment to the microorganism speeds up the process. Inorganic salt solutions act as food for them and assist the process. However, if the other substance destroys the ferment (microorganisms) or reduces its biological activity, then the process of fermentation is retarded. Substances like boric acid, ammonium molybdate reduce or even stop fermentation and are used as preservatives.
- Aeration : Although fermentation occurs under anaerobic conditions, the process occurs fast under well-aerated conditions.