Human beings have been fermenting foods as long as we’ve been standing upright. In the neolithic age, humans ingested fruit that had long dropped from the tree. Realizing the intoxicating accident, they began to harness the power of fermented fruit even before inventing the wheel. They started cultivating rice and barley to use in the fermentation process of fruit and honey. Fermenting fruit, honey and grains into rudimentary wine, mead and beer came before breads and other more complex cooking endeavours, and may have been a big nutritional boon for those struggling for survival in those early days. Today we still use fermentation to make wine and beer, but also as a way to preserve fruits and vegetables like pickles and peaches, or to fundamentally transform the ingredients into something even more delicious like cheese and yogurt.
Around the world fermentation has found footing in every culture. Eastern Europe brought us sauerkraut made from green or red cabbage, while Korea used napa cabbage with radish, scallions, and garlic to create their national dish: Kimchi. India has been creating chutneys since the time of British rule as a way to preserve fruits through pickling with vinegar and spices, one common stand out is lime pickle, a combination of lime and curry, left to ferment into a chunky condiment. In Eastern Africa they ferment finger millet and maize flour for a non-alcoholic drink called Togwa.