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The fermentation of milk using micro-organisms was the very first way of preserving milk. Even then, however, it was only possible to extend the keeping qualities of milk by a few days. Originally the milk soured spontaneously, but later on souring was carried out in a controlled manner by enriching and growing suitable lactic acid bacterial cultures and maintaining optimum growing conditions. This resulted in a reliable operating sequence in the technological process and hence to the manufacture of defined products.
The lactic acid bacteria for making sour milk products were also selected to match the climatic conditions. Thus thermophilic lactic acid bacteria were used for products originating in southern countries with warmer climates, while mesophilic lactic acid bacteria were used for products from the north. Of course climatic conditions no longer play a role in the manufacture of sour milk products in today's state of the art.
Souring, i.e. fermentation, of the milk has the following advantages:
Sour milk products are subdivided by fermentation type, as shown below:
|Fermentation type||Sour milk product|
|Homofermentative lactic fermentation||Yoghurt|
|Homo- and heterofementative lactic fermentation|
|Homofermentative lactic fermentation|
|Homo- und heterofermentative lactic fermentation|
Trans. note: a type of curdied milk from Lapland, fermented with bacillus acidophilus
Metchnikoff, who worked at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, was the first to investigate the effects of yoghurt on human health. He stressed the high dietary value of "Bulgarian soured milk (lit. thick milk)" and assumed that Lb. bulgaricus, a micro-organism which at the time was shown to be present in this "thick milk", established itself in the human intestines during the regular consumption of yoghurt and there prevented toxin-forming processes. He used this theory to explain the known phenomenon of some people in Bulgaria living to be over 100.
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