The controlled microbial growth in foods is referred to as fermentation of foods. These fermented food products are used to replace the original dairy and meat-based foods and beverages. The microbial growth produces good bacteria and enzymes in the food that help aid digestion by acting as probiotics. The use of fermented foods can also in improving the immunity of the consumers. Owing to these benefits, the demand for fermented plant-based products has grown tremendously. Some of the common types of fermented plant-based products available in the market are as follows:
Fermented plant-based dairy alternatives: This includes fermented dairy products, which are manufactured using plant-based ingredients. This includes products made of animal substitutes such as coconut, soy, pea, and oats.
For most consumers, avoiding dairy products is a necessity due to certain health issues such as lactose intolerance. However, apart from health concerns associated with dairy products, consumers also prefer the adoption of plant-based dairy products as part of their dietary plans. These alternatives are healthier due to the presence of several enzymes, which are easier to digest for people with allergies and lactose intolerance.
Fermented plant-based bakery alternatives: This includes bakery products that are produced through the process of fermentation while using plant-based ingredients. Some of the most commonly available fermented plant-based bakery products are buns, bread, cookies, pie, cake, etc.
Plant-based bread is mostly made of legumes and sprouted whole grains and is also richer in protein while having fewer fats. The ingredients used in the manufacturing of plant-based bread generally differ with brands.
Fermented plant-based meat alternatives: Plant-based and cultivated meat are well recognized globally. However, meat fermentation is an emerging technology in the sector. Food scientists are discovering ways to use fermentation technology to produce plant-based meat alternatives.
Fermentation in the meat industry refers to the process of cultivating microbial organisms or deriving ingredients such as enzymes, fats, and additional flavors for incorporating into plant-based alternatives to meat. Three ways used in manufacturing plant-based meat alternatives are conventional fermentation, biomass fermentation, and precision fermentation.
Fermented plant-based sauces and seasonings: The fermented sauces are made by fermenting hot chilis and a couple of other ingredients. Soya sauce, mayonnaise, and fermented ketchup are the key fermented plant-based sauces in the industry. Fermented plant-based sauces have a tangy and sour flavor while also adding probiotics to the sauce.
The fermentation process also produces omega 3, vitamin B, and lactic acid, which makes the fermented sauces healthier than regular sauces. A couple of sauces that are consumed on a daily basis are also fermented.
Fermented plant-based pickles and vegetables: Many plant-based foods consumed in daily lives are fermented, such as plant-based kimchi, sour pickles, tangy, and fermented vegetables. Fermentation in vegetables is generally practiced for preserving vegetables that are out of season. Lacto fermentation is mostly used to ferment vegetables which prevent unhealthy bacteria from growing in vegetables while also giving sour and tangy flavor to the fermented veggies. The most common vegetables that are fermented are carrots, onions, radish, garlic, cauliflower, etc. In various countries, fermented vegetable dishes are very popular.
Also, pickling is a very ancient food preservation technique that is practiced in almost every vegetable. Pickling can be done with or without fermentation. However, fermented pickles have more health benefits as compared to regular pickles, as fermented pickles also contain beneficial bacteria. The most common process for fermenting pickles is by mixing brine with salt or any acid such as vinegar, which helps in improving the health benefits of pickles. Fermented pickles act like probiotics by supporting the growth of healthful bacteria, which prevents yeast infections while also helping with constipation and diarrhea.