Fermentation starters (called simply starters within the corresponding context) are preparations to assist the beginning of the fermentation process in preparation of various foods and fermented drinks. A starter culture is a microbiological culture which actually performs fermentation. These starters usually consist of a cultivation medium, such grains, seeds, or nutrient liquids that has been well colonized by the microorganisms used for the fermentation.
In descriptions of national cuisines, fermentation starters may be referred to by their national names:
- Bulgarian yoghurt (traditional: Kiselo mliako) (Bulgaria and Macedonia)
- Qū (simplified: 曲; traditional: 麴, also romanized as chu) (China)
- Nuruk (누룩), meju (메주) (Korea)
- Koji (麹) (Japan)
- Ragi (Southeast Asia)
- Bakhar, ranu, marchaar (murcha) (India)
- Bubod (Philippines)
- Loopang (look pang Thai: ลูกแป้ง) (Thailand)
- Levain (France)
Typical microorganisms used in starters include various bacteria and fungi ( yeasts and molds): Rhizopus, Aspergillus, Mucor, Amylomyces, Endomycopsis, Saccharomyces, Hansenula anomala,, Lactobacillus, Acetobacter etc. Various national cultures have various active ingredients in starters, and often involve mixed microflora.
- Norman F. Haard, S.A. Odunfa, Cherl-Ho Lee, R. Quintero-Ramírez, Argelia Lorence-Quiñones,Carmen Wacher-Radarte, "Fermented Cereals. A Global Perspective", FAO, Rome, 1999, ISBN 92-5-104296-9
- Dilip K. Arora, Libero Ajello, K. G. Mukerji, "Handbook of Applied Mycology: Foods and Feeds, Volume 3", CRC Press, 1991, ISBN 082478491