Fermentation is a metabolic process that consumes sugar in the absence of oxygen. The products are organic acids, gases, or alcohol. It occurs in yeast and bacteria, and also in oxygen-starved muscle cells, as in the case of lactic acid fermentation. The science of fermentation is known as zymology.
In microorganisms, fermentation is the primary means of producing energy by the degradation of organic nutrients anaerobically. Humans have used fermentation to produce drinks and beverages since the Neolithic age. For example, fermentation is used for preservation in a process that produces lactic acid as found in such sour foods as pickled cucumbers, kimchi and yogurt (see fermentation in food processing), as well as for producing alcoholic beverages such as wine (see fermentation in winemaking) and beer. Fermentation can even occur within the stomachs of animals, including humans.
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