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J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Jul 21;170:284-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.05.018. Epub 2015 May 15.

An ethnobotanical perspective on traditional fermented plant foods and beverages in Eastern Europe.

Author information

Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, Tartu 51003, Estonia. Electronic address:
University of Gastronomic Sciences, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele 9, 12060 Bra/Pollenzo, Italy. Electronic address:
Institute of Ecology and Botany, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Hungarian Academy of Science, Alkotmány u. 2-4, H-2163 Vácrátót, Hungary. Electronic address:
Natural History Department, Janus Pannonius Museum, Box 158, 7601 Pécs, Hungary. Electronic address:
Buca Faculty of Education, Dokuz Eylul University, 35150 Buca, Izmir, Turkey. Electronic address:
Institute for Biological and Environmental Research, University of Prishtina "Hasan Prishtina", Mother Teresa Str., 10000 Prishtinë, Republic of Kosovo. Electronic address:
Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, Tartu 51003, Estonia; Department of Food Science and Technology, Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 62, 51014 Tartu, Estonia. Electronic address:
Nordic Food Lab, Strandgade 91, DK-1401 Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:
Institute for Biological and Environmental Research, University of Prishtina "Hasan Prishtina", Mother Teresa Str., 10000 Prishtinë, Republic of Kosovo. Electronic address:
Department of Botany, University of Sofia, Blvd. Dragan Tzankov 8, 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria. Electronic address:
Department of Dermatology, Emory University School of Medicine, 1518 Clifton Rd NE, CNR Bldg. Room 5000, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; Center for the Study of Human Health, Emory College of Arts and Sciences, 550 Asbury Circle, Candler Library 107, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Botany, Institute of Applied Biotechnology and Basic Sciences, University of Rzeszów,Werynia 502, 36-100 Kolbuszowa, Poland. Electronic address:



Fermented food and beverages represent an important part of the worldwide foodscape, medicinal food domain and domestic strategies of health care, yet relevant traditional knowledge in Europe is poorly documented.


Review of primary ethnographic literature, archival sources and a few ad-hoc ethnobotanical field studies in seven selected Eastern European countries (Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, and Poland) were conducted.


Current or recently abandoned uses of 116 botanical taxa, belonging to 37 families in fermented food or medicinal food products were recorded. These findings demonstrate a rich bio-cultural diversity of use, and also a clear prevalence of the use of fruits of the tannin- and phenolic-rich Rosaceae species in alcoholic, lactic- and acetic acid fermented preparations. In the considered countries, fermentation still plays (or has played until recent years) a crucial role in folk cuisines and this heritage requires urgent and in-depth evaluation.


Future studies should be aimed at further documenting and also bio-evaluating the ingredients and processes involved in the preparation of homemade fermented products, as this can be used to support local, community-based development efforts to foster food security, food sovereignty, and small-scale local food-based economies.


Eastern Europe; Ethnobotany; Fermented foods; Food security

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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