Essay on The History of Fermentation

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The History of Fermentation

It is impossible to set a date as to the first time fermentation was performed. It is possible, however, to guess, and this guess is roughly 8,000 years ago. Wine has been written about for centuries, in the Greek and Roman myths and scriptures. The Greek god of wine, Dionysius, was in charge of the fermentation atop Mount Olympus. The people of this time may not have known exactly what they were doing, but it was a somewhat complicated procedure. The crushing of grapes, and the storing of their juices led to an amazing beverage that is still used in current society. This process of fermentation was used throughout the time of early Christianity, and other religions, for purposes within sermons. Throughout
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Pasteur went through with several experiments and immediately came up with clues to help him unravel the fermentation mystery. The first clue that he noticed was that when alcohol was fermented normally, the yeast cells were plump and budding. But when lactic acid would form instead of alcohol, small rod like microbes were always mixed with the yeast cells. The second clue uncovered during the analysis of the batches of alcohol showed that amyl alcohol and other complex organic compounds were being formed during fermentation. This could not be explained by the simple catalytic breakdown of sugar shown by Lavoisier. Some additional processes must have been involved. The third clue was that some of these compounds were able to rotate light, meaning they were asymmetric. Pasteur had previously shown that only living organisms are able to create asymmetrical compounds. He concluded and was able to prove that living cells, the yeast, were responsible for forming alcohol from sugar, and that contaminating microorganisms turned the fermentations sour.
Over the next several years Pasteur identified and isolated the specific microorganisms responsible for normal and abnormal fermentations in production of wine, beer, and vinegar. He showed that if wine, beer, and milk were heated to moderately high temperatures for a few minutes, microorganisms would be killed and thereby sterilize (pasteurize), the batches and prevent their

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