Optimisation of kefir biomass and metabolite production in conjunction with sensory evaluation

Cerff, Jeanne (2002-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Developing countries such as South Africa are in dire need of nutritionally adequate dairy food and beverage sources that are ambient stable due to minimal access to refrigeration. One such product is Kefir, a naturally fermented milk beverage that originated in Caucasian China many centuries ago. The microorganisms responsible for fermentation of the milk are held together in a carbohydrate matrix in the form of small grains. These grains are then removed from the beverage prior to consumption, and added to fresh milk for new fermentations. This beverage holds great potential for large scale development due to the self-propagating nature of the grains, the lack of sophisticated equipment and knowledge necessary for production, and the appealing sensory characteristics of this beverage. This study was therefore performed as an initial investigation to determine the optimum fermentation conditions for large-scale grain production and optimal sensory appeal. Kefir grain production was found to be proportional to incubation temperature in the range studied (18°, 22°, 25° and 30°C), with maximum grain biomass increases of 500% for the Kefir incubated at 30°C over the 10 d trial. During fermentation of Kefir grains in milk, lactic acid and other metabolites are produced. Lactic acid results in coagulation of the milk, necessary to provide the characteristic texture and flavour of Kefir, as well as exerting a preservative effect. Lactic acid production was found to be strongly proportional to both incubation temperature and inoculum concentration. The samples containing 2% (w/v) Kefir grain inoculum concentration that were incubated at 25°C for 24 h were found to have optimum lactic acid levels for good quality Kefir (pH of 4.4 - 4.6 and TA of 1.0 - 1.15%). The other metabolites produced during Kefir fermentation are responsible for the specific flavour of Kefir, and include acetaldehyde, diacetyl, ethanol, acetone and 2-butanone. These compounds were studied using headspace gas chromatography over the fermentation period, which yielded good resolution and separation of all these compounds, however, only acetaldehyde, ethanol and acetone were found to be major metabolites in this study, These analytical results were then further compared to sensory results for key identified attributes, as obtained from a trained sensory panel, to enable recommendations for optimum fermentation conditions to be made. The studied attributes included sourness, sweetness, butteriness, creaminess, yoghurt flavour, cowiness, effervescence, yeastiness, smoothness and overall acceptability. It was apparent from this study that correlations between analytical and sensory data could be drawn, and that panellists were particularly accurate in detecting the attribute sourness resulting from the accumulated lactic acid in the Kefir. Overall acceptability also seemed to be intricately linked to the attribute creaminess, hence the regular literature references to full-cream Kefir as optimum for best sensory appeal. From this study, it was evident that Kefir with optimal sensory appeal is obtained with incubation for 18 h at moderate temperatures (22° or 25°C) and grain inoculum concentrations (0.8% w/v).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In ontwikkelende lande soos Suid-Afrika, bestaan daar 'n groot behoefte aan voedsame suiwelprodukte wat stabiel is by kamer temperatuur aangesien 'n groot deel van die bevolking beperkte toegang tot verkoelingsfasiliteite het. Een so 'n produk is Kefir, 'n natuurlike gefermenteerde suiwelproduk wat sy oorsprong eeue gelede in China gehad het. Die mikroorganismes wat verantwoordelik is vir die fermentasie, is saamgebind in 'n koolhidraat matriks in die vorm van klein korrels. Hierdie korrels word verwyder uit die drankie voordat dit gedrink word, en word dan weer by vars melk bygevoeg vir 'n verdere fermentasie. Hierdie gefermenteerde produk het baie potensiaal vir massa-produksie, omdat die korrels natuurlik vermeerder, geen gesofistikeerde toerusting of kennis nodig is nie, en die finale produk hoogs aanvaarbare sensoriese eienskappe het. Die doel van die studie was om 'n inleidende ondersoek uit te voer om die optimum fermentasie toestande vir massakweking van korrels en die mees aanvaarbare sensoriese eienskappe te bepaal. Uit hierdie studie is gevind dat Kefirkorrel vermeerdering proporsioneel is tot die verhoging in inkubasie temperatuur in die gebied 18°, 22°, 25° en 30°C, met maksimum biomassa toenames van tot 500% vir Kefir wat vir 10 dae by 30°C geïnkubeer was. Gedurende fermentasie van Kefirkorrels in melk, word melksuur en ander metaboliete gevorm. Melksuur lei tot die verlaging van die pH van die melk, en veroorsaak stolling, wat noodsaaklik is vir die kenmerkende tekstuur en geur van Kefir, maar dien ook as 'n preserveermiddel. Daar is ook gevind dat melksuur produksie 'n direkte verband het met die inkubasie temperatuur en inokulum konsentrasie. Die monsters met Kefirkorrel inokulum konsentrasie van 2% (miv) wat vir 24 h by 25°C geïnkubeer is, het die optimale melksuur konsentrasies vir goeie kwaliteit Kefir bevat (pH van 4.4 - 4.6 en TA van 1.0 - 1.15%). Ander metaboliete wat belangrike geurkomponente van Kefir is, is asetaldehied, diasetiel, etanol, asetoon en 2-butanoon. Hierdie metaboliete is bepaal en geëvalueer met bodamp gaschromatografiese tegnieke gedurende die fermentasie, wat 'n goeie resolusie en skeiding gelewer het. In hierdie studie is slegs asetaldehied, etanol en asetoon as hoof Kefir metaboliete gevind. Die analitiese data is verder vergelyk met die sensoriese data van die hoof sensoriese komponente, soos bepaal deur 'n opgeleide sensoriese paneel, om die mees gunstigde fermentasie parameters te bepaal. Die geëvalueerde eienskappe was suurheid, soetheid, botterigheid, romerigheid, joghurt geur, koeismaak, gas inhoud, gisagtigheid, gladheid en algehele aanvaarbaarheid. Uit hierdie data is gevind dat daar wel 'n sterk korrelasie bestaan tussen die analitiese en sensoriese resultate, en dat paneellede in staat was om die suurheid, as gevolg van die gevormde melksuur, te bepaal. Algehele aanvaarbaarheid is definitief gekoppel aan romerigheid, daarom word volroommelk Kefir verkies bo die wat met afgeroomde melk berei is. Die data uit hierdie studie het ook getoon dat Kefir met optimale sensoriese eienskappe verkry is na 'n inkubasietyd van 18 h by "matige temperature" (22° of 25°C) en 'n Kefirkorrel inokulum van 0.8% (mIv).

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