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Course Information

Instructor Info:Jason Tor
Office Extension x5323
TA Info:Luke Weaver
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Monday
06:00 PM - 09:00 PM Cole Science Center 333

This course will provide an introduction to the processing and preservation of foods. Basic scientific principles will be discussed alongside historical developments in food processing. Principles will be illustrated by exposure to both home as well as industrial processing techniques.

Course Objectives:

At the completion of this course students will be able to…

  • identify the basic structure of the principle biochemical constituents of food
  • distinguish the principle forms of microbial metabolism as they relate to food fermentation
  • identify the biological, physical, and chemical conditions that contribute to food safety
  • discuss the pertinent issues in food safety policy
  • prepare fermented foods and evaluate their sensory characteristics
Evaluation Criteria:

I guarantee you an evaluation if you participate in all class sessions and complete all homework assignments on time.


Completion of all assignments on time is required to receive an evaluation for this course, late work will NOT be accepted.


Weekly Reading Response Papers

Every week you must complete the assigned readings and respond to each of the following questions: (1) what do you feel like you understand well?  (2) What don't you understand?  (3) What further reading/research/information do you need to do in order to understand better?  I expect your response paper to be on the order of 400 – 500 words.  It is due by 10a on the Saturday before the class when the readings will be discussed, which means you can't wait until the night before to do the readings, time manangement is key, plan accordingly.


Ferment at Home

Working in a small group of 2 – 3, try making some fermented foods of your choice where you live (e.g. yogurt, sourdough, vinegar, etc).  Document the process, photos and videos are great complements to the written word, then post it on a tumblr page for this course (  Your group is expected to post at least 3 times this semester.  Remember, what you write will live forever on the internet for all of humanity to see, so put some effort into, take pride in your work and produce a quality product.  I am happy to provide feedback on what you write before you post on the website.

Some essential things to document include the raw ingredients, details in the process, the scientific principles underpinning the process, and the final sensory characteristics of the food.  I will be posting some potential recipes on the course Moodle page, many others are available online, if you can’t find something just ask because I may be able to help.


Research Papers

You are required to write 2 interesting and independent research papers on a topic of your choice related to food fermentation and preservation.

All papers must be submitted online to Moodle, the first is due by 6pm on March 11 and the second by April 29 at 6p.  No late papers will be accepted. No exceptions. 

All papers must be in Doc format. It must not exceed 5 pages, should use 1.5 space line spacing, have 1" margins, and use 12 pt. font.  There should be a page number on every page.  Your paper must have a title and your name. Use images/graphs/figures to help convey information.  Ideas and figures from the primary literature should be cited within the text and a full reference list must be included at the end of each paper.  You may use any consistent format for the references. 

I would be happy to discuss topic ideas with you.  Interesting topics could address the nutrition of fermented foods, probiotics, human health, industrial vs. natural processes, sensory characteristics, microbial diversity, food safety policy, raw vs. pasteurized milk, pathogens on raw food, etc.

I encourage you to read and model your paper after this blog post:  Domestic Just for the Sake of it – The Evolution of a Fungus with Good Taste by Daniel P. Haeusser

It is about the length of what I’m expecting from you.  It is written in an accessible format conveying technical information for a non-expert but scientifically informed audience; this is how I would like you to write your paper.  Consider the structure, introducing the topic through questions and relevance, introducing a recent primary research article (or two or three) that addressed the questions, summarizing the research, and results, finally drawing the conclusions back to the original question and finally providing insight into future directions and posing new questions.

Additional Info:

Keys to success in this class

  • Time management
  • Persistence
  • Hard work
  • Do all the readings
  • Attend all classes
  • Participate

Class Rules and Regulations

Academic dishonesty - In cases of violation of academic dishonesty I will discuss the matter with you and depending on the nature of the violation may choose not to evaluate you or request your removal from the class.  The most common violations I encounter are issues of plagiarism.  This is a difficult issue that even professionals and scientists with a lot more experience than myself struggle with from time to time.  If you are unsure about what plagiarism is and is not – let’s talk about it sooner, rather than later.

Attendance – I expect you to attend every class.  If you miss more than 4.5 hours of total class time you might not receive an evaluation.  We all get sick, please do NOT come to class if you are very sick, your classmates and I will appreciate you not spreading your cold, flu, etc.  I will be happy to work with you to catch up.

Attendance at all scheduled class meetings is very important.  Each class will include activities that you do alone or with a learning group.  You are responsible for all material covered during class whether you were present or not.  If you miss class you should discuss what was done with one of the members of the class and/or me.