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Abstract

For centuries, diverse plant and animal materials have been fermented by various bacteria, yeasts, and fungi to make excellent foods. The kinds of micro organisms used in traditional fermentation are restricted to a relatively few genera, including Aspergillus, Rhizopus, Mucor, Actinomucor, Monascus, Saccharomyces, Neurospora, Acetobacler, Bacillus, and Lactobacillus. The two principal advantages of food fermentations over other processes are to add flavor and to prevent spoilage. Fermented fish is a common food in the Orient and may have been the first product made by fermentation. Flavor is especially important in vegetable diets based on bland foods such as rice. Shoyu is the best, known oriental food fermentation, and it is very widely used as a flavoring agent. Be sides this fermentation, there are a large number of additional ones not so well known outside the Orient, whose products serve as seasoning or flavoring agents. Miso and natto are prepared from soybeans in Japan. Sufu is a cheese like product made from soybean milk in China. Tempeh and ontjom are Indonesian foods prepared from soybeans and peanuts, respectively. These food fermentations are discussed with emphasis on how they are produced and the flavor formed.