March, 2019--An updated edition of the textbook Microbiology and Fermentation of Foods, a definitive resource in food science, has now been published by Wiley-Blackwell, USA. First released in 2006, the book provides an overview of fermented foods from across the globe: their history, as well as the scientific and industrial processes and technologies that go into making them. The new edition contains revised and expanded information (including two new chapters on distilled spirits, cocoa, coffee, and cereal products) to meet the growing demand for fermentation expertise within the food industry.
The author Dr. Robert Hutkins, professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and member of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, says when he started writing the first edition of the textbook in the early 2000s, fermentation was considered an old science, "with nothing new to be learned." At the time, the universities offering food science programs reflected as much: there were few options for fermentation-specific programs, although some offered courses on the topic as an "applied science." However, recent advancements with microbiology and fermentation in the food industry--creating products like the popular vegan "Impossible Burger"--and an upturn in consumer interest in fermented foods through the past decade, have translated into a higher demand for science professionals with this specialized knowledge. Not only that, but this "renaissance" of fermented foods, as Hutkins describes it, is drawing scientists from other fields to observe how fermentation crosses over and influences things such as health properties in nutrition, flavour and quality in biochemistry, and ancient origins in archaeobiology.
The popularity and resurgence of fermented foods started around the same time as the initial edition of Hutkins' textbook, which was released to a highly-receptive audience; since then, some universities have seen increased enrollment in studies specific to fermentation within food science programs. In fact, driven by market demand in the food industry, at least seven universities in the U.S. now offer an option to major in fermentation science.
Hutkins' passion for fermentation is evident in the new edition of the textbook: in addition to having taught microbiology of fermented foods at University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 31 years, he counts himself as a fermented foods aficionado. Microbiology and Fermentation of Foods pulls readers into the fascinating world of the microbiological and biochemical processes at work in fermentation, while including historical perspectives that provide context for its recent rediscovery in science and more broadly. The update of this all-encompassing resource is welcome amid the growing demand for fermented food products and fermentation-related innovations in diverse industries.