The fermentation series – Chapter 2 : Fermentation, an ancestral practice

The fermentation series – Chapter 2 : Fermentation, an ancestral practice

We make the best chocolate in the world because we care about fermentation, which is usually neglected by the chocolate industry. But why does cacao fermentation matter? Our fermentation series explains it for you. You could find Chapter 1 HERE

We can trace fermentation back to the Neolithic age. The introduction of agriculture and farming technologies enabled humanity to produce surplus food and required ways to preserve food for later consumption. The techniques to preserve food were, among others, salting and fermentation. 

What we find most fascinating is that fermentation has appeared in various places of the world. In recent years traces of alcohol have been found from numerous archaeological cultures: in China 7000 BC, in Iran 5000 BC, in Egypt 3000 BC, in Mexico 2000BC, ~1500 BC in Sudan … Archeological and scientific research keep on tracing back earlier and earlier proves of the practice of fermentation. Currently, the oldest traces of fermentation go back more than 10,000 years B.C.. In Israel’s Raqefet Cave archaeologists recently reported traces of what could be the earliest known beer production 13,000 years ago, with molecules of wheat and barley meshed together and fermented, the key steps in beer brewing.

Fermentation has been transmitted empirically from generation to generation. It was first a knowledge based on experience. The reason this knowledge subsisted and endured is probably not that early humans loved so much their prehistoric wine and beer that they had to be able to brew it no matter what. A more likely explanation is that Humanity transmitted the practice of fermentation for its benefit to its survival, as fermentation enabled longer-lasting food, and safer beverages (fermented beverages carried less risk than water). Fermentation also helped early humans to get nutrition from a variety of substances that would be harmful or difficult to digest, which is why some vegetables and dairy can be tolerated more easily when fermented.

So, remember, when you are eating cheese, or enjoying a sip of wine – you are perpetuating an act of cultural heritage dating back from the Neolithic age!


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