Indian idli is a small, white, acidic, leavened, steam-cooked cake made by lactic fermentation of a thick batter made from polished rice and dehulled black gram dhal, a pulse (Phaseolus mungo). The cakes are soft, moist, and spongy and have a pleasant sour flavor. Dosa, a closely related product, is made from the same ingredients, both finely ground. The batter is generally thinner, and dosa is fried like a pancake.

Idli fermentation is a process by which leavened bread-like products can be made from cereals other than wheat or rye and without yeast. The initial step in the fermentation is to wash both rice and black gram dhal. They are then soaked for 5 to 10 hours and drained. The coarsely ground rice and black gram are then combined with water and 1 percent salt to make a thick batter. The batter is fermented in a warm place (30 to 32°C) overnight, during which time acidification and leavening occur. The batter is then placed in small cups and steamed or fried as a pancake. The proportions of rice to black gram vary from 4:1 to 1:4, depending on the relative cost on the market.

Idli and dosa are both products of natural lactic acid fermentation. L. mesenteroides and S. faecalis develop during soaking, then continue to multiply following grinding. Each eventually reaches more than 1 × 109 cells per gram, 11 to 13 hours after formation of the batter. These two species predominate until 23 hours following batter formation. Practically all batters would be steamed by then. If a batter is further incubated, the lactobacilli and streptococci decrease in numbers and P. cerevisiae develops. L. mesenteroides is the microorganism essential for leavening of the batter and, along with S. faecalis,is also responsible for acid production. Both functions are essential for producing a satisfactory idli.

In idli made with a 1:1 ratio of black gram to rice, batter volume increased about 47 percent 12 to 15 hours after incubation at 30°C. The pH fell to 4.5 and total cidity rose to 2.8 percent (as lactic acid). Using a 1:2 ratio of black gram to rice, batter volume increased 113 percent and acidity rose to 2.2 percent in 20 hours at 29°C. Reducing sugars (as glucose) showed a steady decrease from 3.3 milligrams per gram of dry ingredients to 0.8 milligrams per gram in 20 hours, reflecting their utilization for acid and gas production. Soluble solids increased,
whereas soluble nitrogen decreased. Flatulence-causing oligosaccharides, such as
stachyose and raffinose, are completely hydrolyzed.

A 60 percent increase in methionine has been reported during fermentation. The increase would be of considerable nutritional importance if true, but the results conflict with earlier findings. Thiamine and riboflavin increases during fermentation and phytate phosphorous decreases have also been reported.

Pickling of cucumbers and other vegetables is widely practiced today.Although a variety of techniques are used, placing cucumbers in a 5 percent salt brine is a satisfactory method. The cucumbers absorb salt until there is an equilibrium between the salt in the cucumbers and the brine. Acidity reaches 0.6 to 1.0 (as lactic acid) with a pH of 3.4 to 3.6 in about 2 weeks, depending on the temperature.

In Malaysia the most common vegetables pickled are cucumbers, ginger,onion, leek, chili, bamboo shoots, and leafy tropical vegetables like mustard leaves. Young unripe fruits commonly pickled include mangoes, papaya, pineapple, and lime. In Egypt carrots, cucumbers, turnips, cauliflower, green and black olives, onions, and hot and sweet peppers are among the vegetables pickled. They are used as appetizers and served with practically every meal.

Korean kimchi differs from sauerkraut in two respects: it has, optimally,much less acid and it is carbonated. Chinese cabbage and radish are the major substrates; garlic, green onion, ginger, leaf mustard, hot pepper, parsley, and carrot are minor ingredients.

Kimchi is available year-round, is served three times daily, and is a diet staple along with cooked rice and certain side dishes. It accounts for about an eighth of the total daily food intake of an adult. Its popularity is largely due to its carbonation derived from fermentation with natural microflora.

Salting of the cabbage can be done at 5 to 7 percent salinity for 12 hours or 15 percent salinity for 3 to 7 hours, followed by rinsing and draining. Optimum salt concentration during kimchi fermentation is approximately 3 percent. Lower temperatures (about 10°C) are preferred to temperatures above 20°C. Optimum acidity of kimchi is 0.4 to 0.8 percent lactic acid with a pH between 4.2 and 4.5; higher acidity makes it unacceptable. Organisms isolated from kimchi include L. mesenteroides, S. faecalis, Lb. brevis, Lb. plantarum, and P. cerevisiae.

Lactic acid fermentation of cabbage and other vegetables is a common way of preserving fresh vegetables in the western world, China, and Korea (where kimchi is a staple in the diet). It is a simple way of preserving food: the raw vegetable is sliced or shredded, and approximately 2 percent salt is added. The salt extracts liquid from the vegetable, serving as a substrate for the growth of lactic acid bacteria. Anaerobic conditions should be maintained, insofar as
possible, to prevent the growth of microorganisms that might cause spoilage.

The sequence of organisms that develop in a typical sauerkraut fermentation is as follows: Leuconostoc mesenteroides initiates the growth in the shredded cabbage over a wide range of temperatures and salt concentrations. It produces carbon dioxide and lactic and acetic acids, which quickly lower the pH, thereby inhibiting development of undesirable microorganisms that might destroy crispness. The carbon dioxide produced replaces the air and facilitates the anaerobiosis required for the fermentation. The fermentation is completed in sequence by Lactobacillus brevis and Lb. plantarum. Lb. plantarum is responsible for the high acidity. If the fermentation temperature or salt concentration is high, Pecicoccus cerevisiae develops and contributes to acid production.

As would be expected, the rate of completion of the fermentation depends on the temperature and salt concentration. At 7.5°C fermentation is very slow: under these circumstances, L. mesenteroides grows slowly, attaining an acidity of 0.4 percent in about 10 days and an acidity of 0.8 to 0.9 percent in a month. Lactobacilli and pediococci cannot grow well at this temperature, and the fermentation may not be completed for 6 months. At 18°C a total acidity (as
lactic acid) of 1.7 to 2.3 percent will be reached, with an acetic to lactic acid ratio of 1:4, in about 20 days. At 32°C a similar activity will be reached in 8 to 10 days, with most of the acid being lactic acid produced by the homofermentative bacteria Lb. plantarum and P. cerevisiae.

Increasing the salt concentration to 3.5 percent results in 90 percent inhibition of growth and acid production for both L. mesenteroides and Lb. brevis. The ratio of nonvolatile to volatile acid produced has a marked effect on flavor, Lb. brevis producing a harsh, vinegar-like flavor and L. mesenteroides a mild, pleasantly aromatic flavor. The homofermenters Lb. plantarum and P. cerevisiae yield unacceptable products.

Lactic Acid Fermentations

Keith H. Steinkraus

Lactic acid bacteria perform an essential role in the preservation and production of wholesome foods. The lactic acid fermentations are generally inexpensive, and often little or no heat is required in their preparation, making them fuel efficient as well. Foods fermented with lactic acid play an important role in feeding the world's population on every continent.

Lactic acid bacteria perform this essential function in preserving and producing a wide range of foods: fermented fresh vegetables such as cabbage (sauerkraut, Korean kimchi); cucumbers (pickles); fermented cereal yogurt (Nigerian ogi, Kenyan uji); sourdough bread and bread-like products made without wheat or rye flours (Indian idli, Philippine puto); fermented milks
(yogurts and cheeses); fermented milk-wheat mixtures (Egyptian kishk, Greek trahanas); protein-rich vegetable protein meat substitutes (Indonesian tempe); amino acid/peptide meat-flavored sauces and pastes produced by fermentation of cereals and legumes (Japanese miso, Chinese soy sauce); fermented cereal-fish-shrimp mixtures (Philippine balao balao and burong dalag); and fermented meats (e.g., salami).

Lactic acid bacteria are generally fastidious on artificial media, but they grow readily in most food substrates and lower the pH rapidly to a point where competing organisms are no longer able to grow. Leuconostocs and lactic streptococci generally lower the pH to about 4.0 to 4.5, and some of the lactobacilli and pediococci to about pH 3.5, before inhibiting their own growth.

In addition to producing lactic acid, lactobacilli also have the ability to produce hydrogen peroxide through oxidation of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) by flavin nucleotide, which reacts rapidly with gaseous oxygen. Flavoproteins, such as glucose oxidase, also generate hydrogen peroxide and produce an antibiotic effect on other organisms that might cause food spoilage; the lactobacilli themselves are relatively resistant to hydrogen peroxide.

Streptococcus lactis produces the polypeptide antibiotic nisin, active against gram-positive organisms, including S. cremoris, which in turn produces the antibiotic diplococcin, active against gram-positive organisms such as S. lactis. Thus, these two organisms compete in the fermentation of milk products while inhibiting growth of other gram-positive bacteria.

Carbon dioxide produced by heterofermentative lactobacilli also has a preservative effect in foods, resulting, among others, from its flushing action and leading to anaerobiosis if the substrate is properly protected.

Brining and lactic acid fermentation continue to be highly desirable methods of processing and preserving vegetables because they are of low cost, have low energy requirements for both processing and preparing foods for consumption, and yield highly acceptable and diversified flavors. Depending on the salt concentration, salting directs the subsequent course of the fermentation, limiting the amount of pectinolytic and proteolytic hydrolysis that occurs, thereby
controlling softening and preventing putrefaction. Lactic acid fermentations have other distinct advantages in that the foods become resistant to microbial spoilage and toxin development. Acid fermentations also modify the flavor of the original ingredients and often improve nutritive value.

Because canned or frozen foods are mostly unavailable or too expensive for hundreds of millions of the world's economically deprived and hungry people, acid fermentation combined with salting remains one of the most practical methods of preservation, often enhancing the organoleptic and nutritional qualities of fresh vegetables, cereal gruels, and milk-cereal mixtures.


Fundamental questions still remain regarding the detailed mechanisms of enzyme activity and its relationship to enzyme structure. The two most powerful tools that have been brought to bear on these questions in modern times are the continued development and use of biophysical probes of protein structure, and the application of molecular biological methods to enzymology. X-ray crystallography continues to be used routinely to solve the structures of enzymes and of enzyme—ligand complexes. In addition, new NMR methods and magnetization transfer methods make possible the assessment of the three-dimensional structures of small enzymes in solution, and the structure of ligands bound to enzymes, respectively.

The application of Laue diffraction with synchrotron radiation sources holds the promise of allowing scientists to determine the structures of reaction intermediates during enzyme turnover, hence to develop detailed pictures of the individual steps in enzyme catalysis. Other biophysical methods, such as optical (e.g., circular dichroism, UV—visible, fluorescence) and vibrational (e.g.,infrared, Raman) spectroscopies, have likewise been applied to questions of enzyme structure and reactivity in solution. Technical advances in many of these spectroscopic methods have made them extremely powerful and accessible tools for the enzymologist. Furthermore, the tools of molecular biology have allowed scientists to clone and express enzymes in foreign host organisms with great efficiency. Enzymes that had never before been isolated have been identified and characterized by molecular cloning. Overexpression of enzymes in prokaryotic hosts has allowed the purification and characterization of enzymes that are available only in minute amounts from their natural sources. This has been a tremendous advance for protein science in general.

The tools of molecular biology also allow investigators to manipulate the amino acid sequence of an enzyme at will. The use of site-directed mutagenesis (in which one amino acid residue is substituted for another) and deletional mutagenesis (in which sections of the polypeptide chain of a protein are eliminated) have allowed enzymologists to pinpoint the chemical groups that participate in ligand binding and in specific chemical steps during enzyme catalysis.

The study of enzymes remains of great importance to the scientific community and to society in general. We continue to utilize enzymes in many industrial applications. Moreover enzymes are still in use in their traditional roles in food and beverage manufacturing. In modern times, the role of enzymes in consumer products and in chemical manufacturing has expanded greatly. Enzymes are used today in such varied applications as stereospecific chemical synthesis, laundry detergents, and cleaning kits for contact lenses.

Perhaps one of the most exciting fields of modern enzymology is the application of enzyme inhibitors as drugs in human and veterinary medicine. Many of the drugs that are commonly used today function by inhibiting specific enzymes that are associated with the disease process. Aspirin, for example, one of the most widely used drugs in the world, elicits its antiinflammatory efficacy by acting as an inhibitor of the enzyme prostaglandin synthase. As illustrated in Table 1.1, enzymes take part in a wide range of human pathophysiologies, and many specific enzyme inhibitors have been
developed to combat their activities, thus acting as therapeutic agents. Several
of the inhibitors listed in Table 1.1 are the result of the combined use of biophysical methods for assessing enzyme structure and classical pharmacology
in what is commonly referred to as rational or structure-based drug design.
This approach uses the structural information obtained from x-ray crystallography
or NMR spectroscopy to determine the topology of the enzyme active site. Next, model building is performed to design molecules that would fit well into this active site pocket. These molecules are then synthesized and tested as inhibitors. Several iterations of this procedure often lead to extremely potent inhibitors of the target enzyme.

Book Review:

Directed Enzyme Evolution: Screening and Selection Methods
(Methods in Molecular Biology)
From Humana Press

Click here for order

Product Description
Seasoned practitioners from many leading laboratories describe their best readily reproducible screening strategies for isolating useful clones. These techniques have been optimized for sensitivity, high throughput, and robustness, and are of proven utility for directed evolution purposes. The assays presented use a variety of techniques, including genetic complementation, microtiter plates, solid-phase screens with colorimetric substrates, and flow cytometric screens. An accompanying volume, Directed Evolution Library Creation: Methods and Protocols (ISBN 1-58829-285-1), describes readily reproducible methods for the creation of mutated DNA molecules and DNA libraries.

Copy for Both Volumes

Directed Evolution Library Creation: Methods and Protocols and Directed Enzyme Evolution: Screening and Selection Methods constitute an extraordinary collection of all the key methods used today for directed evolution research. Described in step-by-step detail to ensure robust experimental results, these methods will enable both newcomers and more experienced investigators to design and implement directed evolution strategies for the engineering of novel proteins. The first volume describes methods for the creation of mutated DNA molecules, or DNA libraries, encoding variants of desired proteins. The second volume describes methods for screening DNA libraries to isolate mutant proteins that exhibit a specified function.

Click here for order

Product Details
Amazon Sales Rank: #869739 in Books
Published on: 2003-05-16
Original language: English
Number of items: 1
Binding: Hardcover
370 pages


Editorial Reviews
"...covers a considerable number of protocols for a broad range of enzymes...very useful..." - ChemBioChem

covers a considerable number of protocols for a broad range of enzymes very useful ChemBioChem

Click here for order