Skip main navigation

Timeline of fermented foods

Fermented foods have a long history and they are part of our culture and traditions.
7000 BC– first evidences of dairy products from the domestication of animals in Iraq. 4000 BC– the Egyptians discovered the use of yeast for the production of bread and wine. 1500 BC– production of fermented sausages from the ancient Babylonians. 300 BC– storage of fermented vegetables in China.
1851 AC– Louis Pasteur describes for the first time the fermentation process and invents the pasteurisation. 1907 AC– Elie Metchnikoff describes the benefits of the consumption of a milk-fermented beverage in Bulgaria. 1930 AC– use of the first starter cultures for the food fermentations. 1970 AC– development of foods containing probiotics or beneficial bacteria for the human health.
In the last century, fermented foods, such as wine, cheese, olives, and fermented sausages, played an essential role in human culture and traditions. Somehow, they highlighted the life cycle characterised by specific events that were taking place in well-defined moments of the year, for example, grapes and olives harvesting in the fall and the slaughter of the home pig in the winter. Today, although they have lost those meanings, they are still important elements of our history.
Nowadays, fermented foods are recognised globally and are produced and commercialised worldwide. It is interesting to highlight, though, that in different parts of the world, there is a specific production method for fermented foods based on the raw materials available and most often used. For example, in Europe, meat and milk are largely used for fermentation, whereas Africa uses cereals. And in Asia, vegetables and fish are fermented allowing us to create a global map for fermented food.

Fermented foods have a long history. The first evidences of fermented products date back to 7000 BC and since then humans have used fermentation as a process that allows to obtain foods with longer shelf life, safe and nutritious. In this video you will follow the journey of fermented foods and you will understand their importance in our culture and traditions.

This article is from the free online

The Human Microbiome

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now