Fermented food products made with vegetable materials from tropical and warm countries: microbial and technological considerations


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For many centuries, human beings have made fermented food, responding to the need to prolong the shelf life of perishable raw materials. Among the latter, vegetable materials come in diverse forms – roots, cereals, fruits, etc. – and vary from one location to another, especially if we study the products made in tropical and warm parts of the world. Humankind has explored many ways to ferment foods. This has led to the development of a number of different products characterised by original microbial communities, specific nutritional properties and typical sensory features. However, facing tremendous difficulties – sanitary preoccupations, nutritional needs and variability of organoleptic quality – scientists and food makers are now at a crossroads. One strategy would be to deduce which major traits should be optimised from a careful analysis of these products. The addition of selected starters may emerge from this as a good course of action. However, in this article, we consider that the use of traditional approaches – spontaneous fermentation and backslopping – is compatible with the search for higher quality in these products, on condition, though, that certain hygienic rules are respected and sufficient knowledge of microorganisms and raw materials is acquired.