Vital forces of nature
Enzymes are proteins – primary constituents of living things. Their role is to ensure that biochemical reactions within our cells are run. Without enzymes, those reactions simply wouldn’t occur or would run too slowly to sustain life.
Since prehistoric times humankind has been using the benefits of enzymes … often attributing to them some kind of mystic explanation.
Our ancestors started to produce beer and wine already in ca 6000 BCE. The transformation of grapes into wine and barley into beer is called fermentation – the process which is naturally orchestrated by enzymes, which are naturally present in grapes and barley.
Even earlier than that -around 8000 BCE – men knew how to produce cheese. At the time, the pottery was still undiscovered and foodstuffs were stored in animal skins and inflated internal organs. This has lead to an accidental discovery: milk stored in animal stomachs became cheese! Rennet – the enzyme present in animal stomachs – had made milk turn to curd and whey.
Modern Industry best helpers
It was not until the end of 19th century that these mechanisms have been identified and the term ‘enzyme’ was coined from the Greek work literally meaning ‘in leaven’.
Commercial production of enzymes starts in Europe, in the middle of the XXth century. Since then the use of enzymes in different commerical applications did not stop to grow.