Influence of Capsular and Ropy Exopolysaccharide-Producing Streptococcus thermophilus on Mozzarella Cheese and Cheese Whey

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Journal of Dairy Science



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We investigated the effect of capsular and ropy exopolysaccharide-producing Streptococcus thermophilus starter bacteria on Mozzarella cheese functionality and whey viscosity. Mozzarella cheeses were manufactured with Lactobacillus helveticus LH100 paired with one of four S. thermophilus strains: MR-1C, a bacterium that produces a capsular exopolysaccharide; MTC360, a strain that secretes a ropy exopolysaccharide; TAO61, a nonexopolysaccharide-producing commercial cheese starter; and DM10, a nonencapsulated, exopolysaccharide-negative mutant of strain MR-1C. As expected, cheese moisture levels were significantly higher in Mozzarella cheeses made with exopolysaccharide-positive versus exopolysaccharide-negative streptococci, and melt properties were better in the higher moisture cheeses. Whey viscosity measurements showed that unconcentrated and ultrafiltered, fivefold concentrated whey from cheeses made with S. thermophilus MTC360 were significantly more viscous than whey from cheeses made with MR-1C, TAO61, or DM10. No significant differences were noted between the viscosity of unconcentrated or concentrated whey from cheeses made with S. thermophilus MR-1C versus the industrial cheese starter TAO61. These data indicate that encapsulated, but not ropy, exopolysaccharide-producing S. thermophilus strains can be utilized to increase the moisture level of cheese and to improve the melt properties of Mozzarella cheese without adversely affecting whey viscosity.

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