Foods made with healthy bacteria

It may seem weird to some people that we brew our sour beers with bacteria, but check out some of these very common foods that are made with similar micro-organisms.


Kimchi fermentation is carried out by various microorganisms present in the raw materials and ingredients of kimchi. Among them, lactic acid bacteria which can grow in 3% brine play the most active role in the kimchi fermentation; it suppresses the growth of other bacteria which could grow under such conditions.

Among the 200 bacteria isolated form kimchi, the important microorganisms in kimchi fermentation are known to be Lactobacillus plantarum, L. Brevis, Streptococcus faecalis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Pediococcus pentosaceus. Most kinds of bacteria belonging to the genus Lactobacillus have been found to be present in kimchi.


All foods are continually assaulted by many kinds of microorganisms, racing to eat as much as possible. When you pickle vegetables by fermentation, you help one type of microbe win this “race.”

More specifically, you create special conditions in your pickle crock that keep away “bad” spoilage-causing microorganisms, and that allow a unique class of “good” bacteria, called lactic acid bacteria, to colonize your cucumbers.

As lactic acid bacteria grow in your pickle crock, they digest sugars in the cucumbers and produce lactic acid. Not only does this acid give the pickles their characteristic sour tang, it controls the spread of spoilage microbes. Also, by gobbling up the sugars, lactic acid bacteria remove a potential food source for bad bacteria.



“Here’s a sourdough bâtard from Artisan Bakers in Sonoma,” says Danielle Forestier, a French-trained master baker in Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco. “I’m checking the package,” she reports over the phone. “It’s made of unbleached flour, water, and salt. Three ingredients, lots of taste, great texture.” Yet a typical supermarket white bread has more than 25 ingredients and additives and still tastes vapid. 

The difference is those fermenting bugs. The baker’s yeast in supermarket bread creates a virtual monoculture of S. cerevisiae. The sourdough bâtard, on the other hand, is a product of natural fermentation involving wild yeasts and bacteria. Almost all the bacteria are lactobacilli, cousins of the bacteria that curdle milk into yogurt and cheese. “These lactobacilli outnumber yeasts in sourdough by as many as 100 to one,” Sugihara says. It’s the acids they make that give sourdough its tartness. Not only that, say European researchers, the bacteria also contribute carbon dioxide as well as aromatic compounds that infuse bread with flavor and delicious smells.

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Yogurt is made when specific bacteria are added to milk in a controlled environment and allowed to ferment. 

For a dairy product to be called yogurt, it must contain two bacteria: Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Many types of yogurt incorporate other species as well, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei. In many countries, yogurt must also contain live bacteria and remain unpasteurized, with pasteurized yogurts being specially labeled. Pasteurized yogurt has a long shelf life and does not need to be kept refrigerated, but it also doesn’t have the health benefits of live yogurt.

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