Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2005
Publication Date: 6/14/2005
Citation: Johanningsmeier, S.D., Fleming, H.P., Thompson, R.L., McFeeters, R.F. 2005. Chemical and sensory properties of sauerkraut produced with Leuconostoc mesenteroides starter cultures of differing malolactic phenotypes. Journal of Food Science. 70:S343-S349. Interpretive Summary: Sauerkraut is a healthy food produced by fermenting salted cabbage in large vats. Lactic acid bacteria that occur naturally on cabbage multiply when the cabbage is shredded and salted, changing the cabbage into sauerkraut. The quality of sauerkraut produced by these naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria can be highly variable as a result of the variation in lactic acid bacteria which occur on the cabbage. It has been proposed that the addition of a lactic acid bacteria starter culture to the shredded cabbage could result in more consistent, high quality fermentations. This project compared the sauerkraut produced with the addition of two natural variants of Leuconostoc mesenteroides, the species of lactic acid bacteria that initiates the normal sauerkraut fermentation. One culture used up the malic acid present in cabbage, while the other variant does not use this acid during the fermentation. No significant differences in taste properties were found between the sauerkrauts made using these two starter cultures. Sulfur compounds are an important part of sauerkraut flavor. We observed that the sulfur compound profiles in the sauerkrauts produced by these starter cultures were nearly identical. Both sauerkrauts produced with the starter cultures had less off-flavor than naturally fermented sauerkraut from the same cabbage. However, brining at a lower salt concentration with either starter culture changed both the microbiology and chemistry of the fermenting sauerkraut, leading to less sauerkraut flavor and more off-flavors. The conclusion is that the ability to use up the malic acid in cabbage during fermentation is not an important factor in choosing starter cultures for making sauerkraut.
Technical Abstract: Research was conducted to determine whether Leuconostoc mesenteroides starter cultures with (MDC+) and without (MDC-) malolactic activity influenced sensory and chemical properties of sauerkraut. No sensory differences were found between MDC+ and MDC- sauerkraut (p less than/equal to 0.05). In addition, sulfur compound profiles of the resulting sauerkraut were nearly identical. Brining at lower NaCl (0.5%) with either inoculum changed both the microbiology and chemistry of the fermenting sauerkraut, leading to decreased sauerkraut sulfur flavor and increased off-flavors. Quantification of allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), dimethyl disufide, dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS), methyl methanethiosulfinate and methyl methanethiosulfonate (MMTSO2) by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry showed that sauerkraut sulfur flavor correlated linearly with DMTS and MMTSO2 (p less than/equal to 0.01).