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Fermentation Vocabulary

Fermentation Vocabulary

Lacto-fermentation, lactic acid, 3% brine
These terms comes up a lot in conversation when i’m speaking about fermenting and in articles when i’m researching my next recipe.

Lactobacillus acidophilus – The bacteria
It’s full name is Lactobacillus acidophilus – it is the good bacteria that we’re trying to support when making foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt.

Lactic Acid – The Acid
Lactic acid is produced when the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus(Lactobacillus for short) produces an enzyme called lactase – then the lactase converts the sugars into Lactic Acid.

3% Brine – The Brine
This and other percentage amounts are types of ferment ratios found in recipes. The process is simply making sure the volume of water that the vegetables you are fermenting contains 3% salt. Say you have radish in a jar and the jar requires 1000 ml of water to cover the radish, you will require 30 grams of salt. For a detailed recipe please visit this page.

Lactase – The Enzyme
An enzyme produced by Lactobacillus.


SCOBY’s, Starter, the Mother

Starter Culture – A starter is a concentration of the good bacteria and yeast that we add to a recipe or batch of something to ferment it. A sourdough starter you will typically add to flour and water to make bread. It can also be referred to as the mother or in some cases a SCOBY when talking about Kombucha or Jun.

The Mother – You might have seen this when reading an Apple Cider Vinegar bottle? It’s the mirky part of the cider vinegar that usually shows that it’s alive and hasn’t been pasteurised. I say usually because sometimes it’s pure marketing.

SCOBY – SCOBY Stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically it’s a gelatinous film that forms where the fermenting liquid meets oxygen. We transfer the SCOBY from one batch of kombucha to the next to keep the fermenting process healthy and strong. A SCOBY is synonymous with Kombucha though it can also be found in the fermented drink Jun.

Kefir Grains – These come in two main forms – Milk Kefir Grains and Water Kefir Grains. Small grains of bacteria that you feed with milk or sweetened water. By feeding them you are converting what you feed them into a fermented liquid that is then a probiotic drink.

Pasteurised, sterilised, homogenised

Pasteurised – Pasteurisation is when a liquid or food is brought to a hot temperature to kill bad bacterias and organisms but not change the state of the item. The thing is, it is also killing the good bacterias. You’ll typically here this term in reference to milk. The main reason it is used on milk is because of the poor farming practices that we see in large scale farming where the cows aren’t treated well and blood and faces can end up in the milk. When a cow is fed properly, treated properly, not given antibiotics and milked properly the milk can be drank in it’s raw form. Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist, had the term named after him.

Sterilised, sterilisation – This is when you remove any bacteria from an object, typically before you preserve with it. This is to minimise the risk of spoilage. The common ways to sterilise a jar is by heating it in the oven above 110 degrees celsius for ten minutes or boiling them in water for a similar time. Very essential when pickling though not as essential when fermenting vegetables – just as long as the jars or crocks that the produce is in are clean.

Homogenised –  A process that prevents the fat separating from the rest of the milk. It turns the fat molecules into smaller bits by putting them under high pressure. The majority of milk we consume has been homogenised. You can tell if the milk hasn’t been homogenised if the fat has risen to the top in the bottle.

Alcohol, acetic acid, vinegar

Acetic Acid – After water Vinegar’s main component is acetic acid. It is created when acetic bacteria oxidises sugars or alcohol.


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