Madrau, Monica Assunta and Mangia, Nicoletta Pasqualina and Murgia, Marco Ambrogio and Sanna, Maria Giovanna and Garau, Giovanni and Leccis, Luisanna and Caredda, Marco and Deiana, Pietrino (2006) Employment of autochthonous microflora in Pecorino Sardo cheese manufacturing and evolution of physicochemical parameters during ripening. International Dairy Journal, Vol. 16 (8), p. 876-885. ISSN 0958-6946. Article.
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The isolation and identification of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) from raw ewes’ milk and traditional Pecorino Sardo cheese made from this milk without the addition of starter culture was carried out to define the autochthonous lactic microflora present in milk and the evolution of LAB during cheese ripening. Isolation of 275 strains belonging to different Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus and Enterococcus species was achieved. Coccal-shaped LAB were found to predominate during cheese fermentation, while lactobacilli were preponderate during the latter phase of ripening. The technological selection of a total of 174 LAB strains belonging to the species Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lb. casei allowed an experimental starter to be prepared, in which a potentially probiotic species, Lb. casei was used. The suitability of the autochthonous starter culture was tested in cheese-making trials, using thermised ewes’ milk, by comparing experimental Pecorino Sardo cheese with a control cheese produced at industrial scale using a whey starter culture from previous batches of manufacture. In particular, microbiological and physicochemical parameters were determined over 210 days of cheese ripening. Although sensory evaluation did not show any significant difference between experimental and control Pecorino Sardo cheeses, the use of the selected autochthonous starter allowed the production of experimental cheese with a significantly higher level of free amino acids, in particular essential amino acids, in comparison with the Pecorino Sardo control cheeses.
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