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Name: Jay
Status: Student
Grade:  Other
Location: NY
Country: United States
Date: September 2008

Is it possible to have a fermentation process with flour or rice, and without using yeast?

Fermentation in its commonly-used sense (converting sugar to ethanol) can start with wheat or rice, but it does need some kind of microorganism, and that organism is yeast. A broader definition of fermentation means using microorganisms to produce any useful product (not limited to ethanol). So-called industrial fermentation can use many different microorganisms including bacteria or yeast to produce lots of different products (such as chemicals or pharmaceuticals). It would typically be possible (although not always advantageous) to use wheat or rice in industrial fermentation.

Hope this helps,

Yes, it is definitely possible to ferment (wheat) flour or rice.
Yes, it is possible to do so without yeast.

In every common definition of "fermentation", yeast or bacteria convert carbohydrates into either alcohols or acids. Usually the yeasts produce alcohol (beer, wine), and the bacteria produce acids (yogurt, sauerkraut, sourdough), but there are exceptions. Often the yeast and bacteria collaborate.

Sourdough bread is an example of *wheat* being fermented by bacteria (and yeast, to some degree, depending on source). Bokashi is another example. An example of fermented *rice* would be 'arroz fermentado' (South American), or Tapai (Asian).

If you are interested, I recommend the book "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Katz. It illuminates (and provides recipes for) humanity's long tradition of fermentation, including... Beer, wine, mead, bread, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, amazake, kombucha, chicha, chang, vinegar.

P. Bridges

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