The Effect of Incubation Temperature on the Survival and Growth of Yeasts in Sethemi, South African Naturally Fermented Milk

Ameha Kebede1, Bennie C. Viljoen1*, Henry Gadaga2, Judith A. Narvhus3 and Analie Lourens-Hattingh1

Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, University of The Free State, P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein, South Africa

2Institute of Food, Nutrition and Family Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
3Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, N-1432, Ås, Norway

Article history:

Received September 21, 2005
Accepted July 5, 2006

Key words:

yeasts, naturally fermented milk, Sethemi, lactic acid bacteria


The effect of temperature on the growth of yeasts during the production of Sethemi, South African naturally fermented milk (NFM), was studied by incubating raw milk and milk inoculated with selected yeast strains at 7, 15, 25 and 37 °C. The different temperatures were selected to represent the average ambient temperatures around Bloemfontein, South Africa, during winter, spring, summer, and in the human body, respectively. The yeast strains used had previously been isolated from Sethemi and identified as Kluyveromyces marxianus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Candida albicans and Debaryomyces hansenii. The yeast strains were inoculated into raw milk separately and also as a mixture of the four strains. The yeast counts, lactic acid bacteria counts and pH were monitored over a period of 20 days. It was observed that although all the yeast strains grew in the milk at all temperatures, the fastest growth was at 37 °C but there was a prolonged lag phase at 7 and 15 °C. The highest yeast counts of 8.30 log (CFU/mL) were obtained at 25 °C in the milk inoculated with K. marxianus. At all temperatures, the initial yeast count in the control was significantly (p<0.05) lower than the counts in the inoculated milk. Lactic acid bacteria also grew to high numbers both with added yeast and in the control. The highest LAB counts of about 11.59 log (CFU/mL) were obtained in the presence of S. cerevisiae after about 4 days of incubation at 25 °C. The addition of different yeast strains did not affect significantly the growth of LAB at all temperatures. After 3 days, the LAB counts decreased rapidly at 37 °C, while from day 2 to day 5 the LAB numbers remained stable at 25 °C. There was a rapid decrease in pH at higher temperatures than at 7 or 15 °C, corresponding to the LAB growth. A temperature of 25 °C was found to be ideal for producing fermented milk with high LAB counts, low pH and a visually acceptable coagulum.

*Corresponding author: 
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