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Health Benefits of traditionally fermented milk – part 3

Frequently asked questions on fermented milk

This is part three and final part in this series of health benefits of traditionally fermented milk . Read part 1 here and part 2 here

1. Should the milk be pasteurized (boiled) before fermentation

Pasteurisation or boiling of the milk kills foreign or pathogenic bacteria.

Boiling of milk for spontaneous fermentation may slow down the fermentation process due to reduced number of bacteria and might also affect the flavour. However, it is a good and a highly recommended practice and should be observed before fermentation to make milk safe.

2. Can fermented milk make you sick?

Fermented milk if contaminated can make you sick. Additionally, pathogenic bacteria can grow in the milk during fermentation process posing a health risk.

To minimise such risk, it is important to ensure that the milk is obtained and fermented under the highest hygienic conditions possible.

3. Is milk coagulated by addition of lemon juice nutritious?

This is a short-cut to the fermentation process. Also addition of any other acid will coagulate the milk.

The added lemon juice is acidic which increases the acidity of the milk, lowering the pH and causing the milk to coagulate.

Acid coagulated milk does not offer the same health benefits as those derived from live bacteria found in spontaneously or controlled fermented milk.

4. How does traditionally fermented milk compare to yoghurt?

Yoghurt is manufactured under a controlled fermentation process by inoculating with specific bacteria which are tailored to deliver specific properties such as flavour, texture and consistency. While traditionally fermented milk undergoes uncontrolled fermentation.

5. Are there commercial products that can deliver the same or superior benefits than traditionally fermented milk?

Yes. There is a class of foods called ‘probiotics’. Probiotic foods are developed by inoculating them with high concentrations of probiotic bacteria. These products deliver high quality and specific health benefits to the consumer. The most common commercial probiotic foods are probiotic yoghurt.

6. What are the health benefits of commercial probiotic yoghurts?

Commercial probiotic yoghurts offer many health benefits which include: improvement of the immune system, fight cancer, lower cholesterol, promote or help in recovery from diarrhoea, alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance, increase nutrient bioavailability and reduce blood pressure in hypertensive.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • peter June 6, 2011, 1:32 pm

    thanks for your articles which are quite informative. to a large extent they bridge the yawning gap btwn academia and reality. i encourage you to continue offering them that many may be informed. our universities have a problem of having lots of info but it never reaches beyond the library shelves. these articles change this. by the way is traditionally fermented milk the same as commercial maziwa mala??

    • Joshua Arimi June 30, 2011, 7:22 am

      Thanks Peter for your compliments. Actually, I am not aware of an easy and simple way of differentiating cow from goat’s milk. I will have an easy way for you soon.

  • Njeri August 19, 2011, 5:20 am

    Hi Joshua, I just came across your website and I like what you are doing very much. I have a question for you about the traditional “uncontrolled” fermentation methods vs today’s “controlled” fermentation methods. Are the traditional methods really uncontrolled? People have been making and drinking traditionally fermented milk since waaaaay before the “controlled” methods were even dreamed of. And since you and I are alive, these methods were obviously successful. One would have to look at the traditional method before declaring it “uncontrolled”. From the looks of things it has been done in the same way for a loooong time. The milk is stored in the cow at a certain body temp and soon after it is milked out it is put into a kibuyu container and allowed to sit for a time until it ferments and is consumed also within a known period of time since we did not refigerate storing such foods over long periods of time was not done as it was known to go bad. If the process was actually studied and measured I am sure you would find a lot more “control” in it than you may think. For example, since ugali tastes the same for the most part, you will find a lot of “control” in how it is made right? What are your thoughts?

    Keep up the great work!

    • Joshua Arimi August 19, 2011, 3:24 pm

      Hi Njeri,
      I like your comment. The term ‘controlled’ and ‘uncontrolled’ when used in fermentation is synonymous with how spontaneous the process is. In traditional fermentation, the farmer had no control over the type of bacteria that grew in the milk during the fermentation process. Hence ‘uncontrolled’ fermentation. In modern fermentation, specific type of bacteria are added to ferment the milk, therefore delivering specific flavour, body and consistency of the fermented milk. That is why the process is called controlled fermentation as opposed to spontaneous or uncontrolled fermentation. The same applies to fermented traditional and modern beers.

  • James November 19, 2011, 11:03 am

    Hi Joshua,
    Thanks for your highly informative articles.
    Could you please also comment on the health benefits or otherwise of the kenyan MAZIWA MALA.
    Does it have the same benefits as yoghurt.
    How about its content in terms of fat, good and bad cholesterol etc.
    Regards
    James

    • Joshua Arimi December 31, 2011, 7:59 am

      Hi James, I have oulined all the benefits of traditional fermented milk in part 1 and 2 of this article. The amount of fat depends on the milk used to make the Mala. If it is full fat milk, the amount of fat will be approximately 3.5% and bad cholesterol will correspond to the amount in milk. All the best.

  • kayihura joseph (Rwandan food scintist) April 4, 2012, 5:45 pm

    Hi Africans my friends’
    most pple use internet for stupid things but am so happy to see africans now have started helping important things especially comparing what we now call mordern and traditional. All African thinking are called traditional and any thing else mordern’ thanks to Joshua for his website let it be a lesson to all Africans. ‘Twiheshe Agaciro: we give ourselves Value’
    Scintific coments: an other time.

  • kayihura joseph (Rwandan food scintist) April 4, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Educated Africans should not run after what europeas and americans do, but proove and find out how our ancestors were so wise! We had a korean lecturer who used to say that Rwanda was blessed by God so many years ago. Me I would say this to the whole of Africa. I am also redy to help any one with any question related to food on this website before i create mine.

  • Gary August 1, 2012, 3:14 am

    Hi Joshua, does the fermentation process have any effect on casein in milk? My wife is allergic to casein.

    Thank you!

  • EVANS KITHINJI September 14, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Hi Arimi,

    Traditional fermentation of milk was done in special containers, mostly gourds, did they add any value to the process?

    Kithinji

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