For many centuries, people have used the technique of fermentation to prepare foods. Examples are fermented maize in Ghana, fermented legumes in Asia and fermented millet porridge in East Africa. This kind of fermentation does not produce alcohol.
Food is usually fermented for two days before use. During fermentation, bacteria that are naturally present in some foods cause a simple chemical change to take place. This makes the food taste slightly sour and improves the taste. It also means that germs which cause diarrhoea cannot grow so easily in the food. Mothers often have no time to prepare fresh food for each meal for young children. Giving them previously cooked food can result in infections and diarrhoea. However, when fermented food is used, the risk of infections and diarrhoea is greatly reduced. Fermentation also makes the food easier to digest and makes it easier for the body to use the iron in the food.
Many people prefer the taste of fermented foods. However, health workers may discourage their use. They often believe these are old fashioned and unhelpful foods. However, fermentation is a traditional process which is still of great value.