Microbes in Household Products: Uses & Significance - Embibe
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  • Written By Sagarika Swamy
  • Last Modified 24-06-2022
  • Written By Sagarika Swamy
  • Last Modified 24-06-2022

Microbes in Household Products – Definition, Uses & Significance

Microbes in Household Products: Microbes are used extensively in household products, industrial products, medicine, etc. Microbes are small and tiny organisms, but they can do wonders like converting milk to curd, normal coconut water to a traditional drink, etc. Microbes can act as parasites and can cause a number of infectious diseases.

Microbes and their products are also in the making of cheese, curd, dough, bread, vinegar, and other foods in everyday life. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB), also known as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus lactis, and Streptococcus lactis, are probiotic bacteria that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach and other regions of the digestive tract. Let’s explore more in detail the role of microbes in household products in the below article.

What are Microbes?

Microbes are tiny organisms, they are too tiny to see without a microscope, yet they are abundant on Earth. They live everywhere, in air, soil, rock and water. These microscopic organisms are found in plants and animals as well as in the human body.

Role of Microbes in Household Products: Types

Microbes are a vast community of vivid organisms. This group includes Bacteria, Viruses, unicellular Fungi, and unicellular Algae; all unicellular Protozoa members are the four major types of microbes.

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Types of Microbes

Fig: Types of Microbes

Microbes in Household Production

Curd: Microorganisms such as Lactobacillus and others commonly called Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) grow in milk and convert it into curd. During growth, the Lactic acid bacteria produce acids that coagulate and partially digest the milk proteins called casein.

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus converts lactose sugar of milk into lactic acid at a temperature of about \({\rm{40^\circ C}}\) or less. Streptococcus lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus are also used in the formation of curd.
  2. The starter or inoculation used in the preparation of milk products is a small amount of curd (spoonful), which actually contains millions of lactic acid bacteria.
  3. Curd is more nutritious than milk as it contains a number of organic acids and vitamin \({{\rm{B}}_{{\rm{12}}}}{\rm{.}}\)
  4. LAB present in curd also checks the growth of disease-causing microbes in the stomach and other parts of the digestive tract.
  5. Curd also used to obtain buttermilk. Curd also possesses antimutagenic and anticancer biochemicals.

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Paneer: Paneer (cottage cheese) is a fresh cheese common in South Asia, especially in India. It is made by curdling milk with lemon juice, vinegar and other edible acids. Large holes in Swiss cheese is due to the production of a large amount of carbon-di-oxide by the bacterium Propionibacterium shermanii.

Dhokla: The dough of dhokla is prepared by mixing gram flour (Besan) with buttermilk. The Lactobacilli bring about the fermentation process.

Jalebi and Nan: Jalebi and Nan are prepared from maida by the activity of many Lactobacilli.

Idli and Dosa: The dough which is used for making dosa and idli is the fermented preparation of rice and black gram (Urad dal).

  1. The dough is allowed to ferment overnight for \(10 – 12\) hours.
  2. The lactic acid bacteria from Leuconostoc and Streptococcus species bring about fermentation. Several other genera, like Bacillus, Candida, and Saccharomyces, are also used in this process.
  3. During fermentation, \({\rm{C}}{{\rm{O}}_{\rm{2}}}\) is evolved, which causes doughing of the raw material. The bubbles of \({\rm{C}}{{\rm{O}}_{\rm{2}}}\) trapped in gluten makes the idli puffy.

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Yoghurt: Yoghurt provides protein and calcium, and it may enhance healthy gut bacteria.

  1. Yoghurt is produced by curdling milk with the help of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus lactis, etc.
  2. Initially, milk is heated to \({\rm{80^\circ – 90^\circ C}}\) for half an hour. It is cooled to \({\rm{40^\circ – 43^\circ C}}\) and mixed with an inoculum containing the Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria.
  3. After four hours, yoghurt becomes ready. It has an original flavour of lactic acid and acetaldehyde.
  4. Since it is already acidic \(\left( {{\rm{pH \;3}}{\rm{.7 – 4}}{\rm{.3}}} \right){\rm{,}}\) yoghurt is often sweetened and flavoured with fruits.

Facts about Yoghurt

  1. Yoghurt is actually Turkish! Many people think that it originated in Greece, but its root is from the Turkish word ‘Yog‘, meaning “to condense or intensity.
  2. It is great for your skin, and in many parts of India and Asia was used as far back as ancient times to moisturize and revive skin.
  3. It can be used to polish brass. Yoghurt contains lactic acid, which eats away the tarnish on your brass and leaves your ornaments shining.
  4. It is good for your digestion. It contains good bacteria known as probiotics which aid your digestive system and help to keep you regular.

Bread: Bread is made from wheat flour.

  1. The dough that is used for making bread is fermented by using the microbe Saccharomyces cerevisiae which is commonly called Baker’s Yeast

Toddy Drink: The toddy is a refreshing traditional drink in some parts of south India. The toddy is prepared by the fermentation process of coconut water and sap of palm trees. Toddy can be heated to produce jaggery or palm sugar.

Process of Toddy: Toddy undergoes fermentation if left for a few hours with the help of naturally occurring yeast to form a beverage containing about \(6\% \) alcohol.

Cheese: Different varieties of cheese are known for their characteristic texture, flavour and taste. The specificity comes from the microbe that is used in it. For example, the large holes in ‘Swiss cheese’ are due to the production of a large amount of \({\rm{C}}{{\rm{O}}_{\rm{2}}}\) by a bacterium named Propionibacterium shermanii. In contrast, the ‘Roquefort cheese’ are ripened by growing a specific fungus on them, which gives them a specific flavour.

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There are two types of cheese:
(a). Ripened cheese: It is ripened only from the outside. It is soft in nature.
(b). Unripened cheese: It is ripened externally as well as internally. It is hard in nature.

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Other Foods: Microbes are used in many other foods from the process of fermentation.

Soyabean Preparations:

(a) Tempeh- It is Indonesian food formed by fermenting soybean. It is an important source of vitamin \({{\rm{B}}_{{\rm{12}}}}{\rm{.}}\) The preparation of this food also requires the involvement of microbes.  A fungus, Rhizopus oligosporus, is used in the fermentation process and is also known as a tempeh starter.
(b) Sofu (Chinese) and Tofu (Japanese)- They are cheese-like products of soybean obtained after fermentation with Mucor species.
(c) Soya sauce- It is a flavoured, salted, brown sauce obtained by fermentation from a mash of soybean and wheat with the help of Aspergillus oryzae, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces rouxii and Torulopsis species.

Sausages: Sausages are prepared by fermentation and curing of fish and meat. They possess particular flavours and tastes depending upon the fermenting agent. Lactic acid bacteria Pediococcus cerevisiae are most commonly used.

Bamboo Shoots: Tender bamboo shoots are used as vegetables directly as well as after fermentation.

Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is produced by Leuconostoc and Lactobacillus species within shredded cabbage. This is a fermented cabbage that is used as a delicate food.

Pickles: Pickles prepared by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) fermentation have a unique flavour and beneficial health effects. These LABs are slightly different as they can comfortably tolerate higher concentrations of salt and sugar. Lactobacillus plantarum, L. brevis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Pediococcus cerevisiae, Pediococcus pentosaceus and Enterococcus faecalis are used in pickle making.

Microbes in Industrial Products

Microbes are grown in very large vessels called fermentors or bioreactors. In industries, microbes are very much used to synthesize different types of products which are valuable for us. These products are food additives, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), organic acids, enzymes, vitamins, biofuels, bio-fertilizers, metabolites, different types of antibiotics, and vaccines in the medical field for the treatment of diseases. Microbes play a vital role in the fermentation process to obtain several products.

Microbes in Household Products: Summary

Humans manipulate microbes to do work for them in industry, medicine, and caring for the environment. Microbiology is a complex discipline that includes many branches studying different aspects of microbes. There are many microbes that help humans in the household products like the formation of curd, yoghurt, cheese, paneer, traditional drink toddy, etc., that are rich in calcium and good for young children’s growth. Infectious diseases are caused by microbes acting as parasites. There are differences in infectious diseases affecting developing and industrialized countries.

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FAQs on Microbes in Household Products

Frequently asked questions related to microbes in household products are listed below:

Q.1: What is the role of microbes in household products?
Ans: The role of microbes in household products includes the dough used to make idli or dosa, curd, and cheese under the process of the fermentation process.

Q.2: What do you mean by microbes?
Ans: It is an organism that can be seen only through a microscope. Microorganisms include bacteria, protozoa, algae, and fungi.

Q.3: What products or services can be obtained from microbes?

Ans: a. Food additives like curd, cheese, yogurt, paneer, etc.
b. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for example toddy a traditional drink that consists of 6% alcohol.
c. Biofuels, metabolites, and biofertilizers.
d. Few Chemicals, Enzymes and other Bioactive Molecules.
e. Vaccines and other Antibiotics kill or retard the growth of disease-causing microbes.

Q.4: What are the microbes used in household products?
Ans: a. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) like Lactobacillus are added to milk for the formation of curd.
b. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is commonly known as Baker’s Yeast which is used in the preparation of bread.

Q.5: What are the different types of microbes present on our planet earth?
Ans: The different types of microbes present on earth are algae, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi.

We hope this detailed article on Microbes in Household Products helps you in your preparation. If you get stuck do let us know in the comments section below and we will get back to you at the earliest.

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