• Role of Lactobacilli in Flavour Development of Cheddar Cheese.

      Beresford, Tom; Cogan, Tim; Rea, Mary; Drinan, Finbarr; Fitzsimons, Nora; Brennan, N.; Kenny, Owen; Fox, P.F. (Teagasc, 2001-05-01)
      Cheddar cheese is a complex microbial ecosystem. The internal cheese environment, in particular of hard and semi-hard cheeses, is not conducive to the growth of many microorganisms. At the beginning of ripening the dominant microorganisms are the starter bacteria which are present at high levels (~109/g). However, during ripening, non-starter lactic acid bacteria (NSLAB) grow from relatively low levels (<103/g) at the beginning of ripening, to 108/g within 6 - 8 weeks. Other bacteria, e.g. enterococci and staphylococci, may also be present but in much lower numbers. In a previous study of mature and extra mature Cheddar cheeses from different manufacturers (see End of Project Report No. 1), it was found that the NSLAB population was dominated by strains of Lb. paracasei. However, their contribution to cheese flavour and their source(s) are still unclear, nor is it known if the NSLAB flora is unique to each plant. Hence, understanding the growth of this group of organisms in cheese is a key to defining their role in flavour development. The biochemistry of flavour development in cheese is poorly understood. For most cheese varieties, including Cheddar, proteolysis, which results in the accumulation of free amino acids, is of vital importance for flavour development. Increasing evidence suggests that the main contribution of amino acids is as substrates for the development of more complex flavour and aroma compounds. The manner by which such compounds are generated in cheese is currently the focus of much research. Starter bacteria have been shown to contain a range of enzymes capable of facilitating the conversion of amino acids to potential flavour compounds. However, the potential of lactobacilli (NSLAB) to produce similar enzymes has only recently been investigated. Hence, although, it is generally accepted that the cheese starter flora is the primary defining influence on flavour development, the contribution of NSLAB is also considered significant. The objectives of these studies were: - to develop a greater understanding of the behaviour of NSLAB in cheese, and - to identify suitable strains, and other cheese bacteria, to be used as starter adjuncts for flavour improvement.
    • Significance of Lactobacilli in Cheddar Cheese

      Cogan, Tim; Beresford, Tom; Drinan, Finbarr; Palles, Tony; Fitzsimons, Nora (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objectives of this project were to isolate and identify the non-starter lactobacilli in mature Cheddar cheese, identify strains which impart mature flavours to cheese and determine their role in developing cheese flavour. The main conclusions were as follows: Based on an analysis of 18 mature Cheddar cheeses, selected from 7 commercial manufacturers, non-starter lactic acid bacteria typically numbered, as expected, 106-108 per gram and were dominated (97 percent) by Lactobacillus paracasei. Although a small number of strains (typically 1 to 4) was found in each cheese there was considerable strain diversity in cheeses within as well as between manufacturing plants. When selected strains were investigated for survival and flavour enhancement when added (as starter adjuncts) with the normal starter cultures in Cheddar cheese manufacture, it was found that they remained dominant for up to 3 months of ripening. Commercial grading of these cheeses at 3 and 6 months confirmed that the added strains did modify flavour development and one (DPC 4103), in particular, had a beneficial effect. It was confirmed that two selected strains of non-starter lactobacilli were capable of metabolising citrate under the conditions of Cheddar cheese ripening and, consequently, if present in sufficient numbers, would influence flavour development. The work was greatly facilitated by the successful and novel adaptation of a modern rapid molecular technique (RAPD) for species and strain classification. In summary these studies found that one species of lactobacilli (Lb. paracasei) was the dominant non-starter lactic acid bacteria in mature Cheddar cheese. Although a wide variety of strains were identified, only a few were found in any particular cheese, suggesting their likely role in cheese flavour diversity even within the same manufacturing plant. This suggests the potential for flavour control or enhancement through the selective and controlled use of non-starter lactic acid bacteria. Preliminary investigations of the metabolism of those organisms supports this view and a follow-up study now in progress should provide greater clarity on this matter.