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The Variety and Roles of Microbes

Author(s): Barbara Tharp, MS, and Nancy Moreno, PhD


Students might not realize that many ordinary foods are made with microbes. Vinegar, for example, is soured wine.

Different vinegars obtain their flavors from the type of wine fermented (e.g., apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider wine, which is fermented apple cider) or from their surroundings after/during fermentation (e.g., balsamic vinegar is flavored by the balsamic fir wood barrels in which it is aged). 

Sauerkraut, soy sauce, coffee and chocolate also are produced with the help of microbes.

A recipe to make vinegar can be found at

To see how cheese is made, visit (Scroll to the bottom of the first screen to see the short video demonstrating several steps in the cheese making process.)

Another cheese video is available at

A great video on the making of chocolate can be viewed at

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: 5R25RR018605