Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2003
Publication Date: 12/1/2004
Citation: Johanningsmeier, S.D., Fleming, H.P., Breidt, F. 2004. Malolactic activity of lactic acid bacteria during sauerkraut fermentation. Journal of Food Science. 69:M222-M227. Interpretive Summary: Sauerkraut is a very healthful food, and consumption could be increased by improvements in the quality and uniformity of this cabbage product fermented by naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria (LAB). We isolated and determined the biochemical characteristics of LAB responsible for commercial sauerkraut fermentation in search for a desirable culture to use for controlled fermentation of cabbage. We found that the ability of the LAB to degrade malic acid, a natural acid of cabbage, varied among isolated cultures. The ability to degrade malic acid may be important because carbon dioxide gas is formed and acidity of the cabbage is reduced. Although we are unsure of the importance of the ability to degrade malic acid, the pros and cons of the questions are being considered in selection of the preferred culture for potential commercial application in the sauerkraut industry.
Technical Abstract: The frequency of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) involved in sauerkraut fermentation with (MDC+) or without (MDC-) the ability to decarboxylate malic acid was determined. The MDC+ phenotype was found in >99% of homofermentative LAB isolated from commercial fermentations. In contrast, heterofermentative LAB isolates from 0.25, 3, 7, and 10 d had only 53, 54, 15, and 11% MDC+ phenotype, respectively, indicating that more than one strain or species was involved. The malolactic reaction was demonstrated in cabbage juice with known strains of Leuconostoc mesenteroides, raising the question of desirability of such activity in cultures selected for the controlled fermentation of cabbage.