Food Fermentation: The Science of Cooking with Microbes
What’s living in your food? Many of the foods that we consume daily owe their distinct characteristics and flavors to microbes, specifically through a biochemical process of fermentation (using bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms to produce diverse foods). Gourmands and everyday consumers can quickly name some of the most popular fermented foods we consume—beer, yogurt, pickles—but, what about that coffee you drank this morning, or the chocolate bar you are saving for later?
Through hands-on, at-home exercises, you will experiment with your food to grow your own microbial environments to make mead, sourdough, tempeh, and more—and discover the important role science plays in food fermentation. In Food Fermentation: The Science of Cooking with Microbes, you will explore the history of food and beverage fermentations and how it changes and enhances flavors, aromas, and tastes. You will engage with your peers in kitchen science, discussing how and why fermentation does or does not happen and what conditions you should consider to create the right growth opportunities.
From chemistry to microbiology to your dinner plate, this course will analyze the role of microbes in production, preservation, and enhancement of diverse foods across a variety of culinary traditions.
Upcoming start dates
- Self-paced Online
Who should attend?
- Fermentation basics: simple fermentations starting with carbohydrates (bread and mead)
- Fermenting with lactic acid bacteria: pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, and fresh cheese
- Microbial communities: beer, sourdough, kefir and kombucha
- Flavor production, with a focus on wine and vinegar
- Fermenting with filamentous fungi: amazake, soy sauce, and tempeh
- Aged meat and cheese
- Ecological succession in fermentation: chocolate and coffee
Course delivery details
This course is offered through Harvard University, a partner institute of EdX.
2-3 hours per week
- Verified Track -$169
- Audit Track - Free
Certification / Credits
What you'll learn
- Have a greater understanding and appreciation of fermented foods and their history, culture and science
- Have a deeper knowledge of beneficial microbes to preserve food and harmful microbes that can contaminate food
- Have examined the underlying chemistry and microbiology of different kinds of fermentation through hands-on experiments— and honed your skills in experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation.
- Learned the scientific principles and application of instruments used for chemical and microbial characterization
- Explored the chemistry of flavor molecules including the physiology of flavor and the microbial reactions that produce flavor molecules and other metabolites
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