Use of Starter Culture

In long-ripened sausages, just as in short-ripened ones, lactic starters reduce pH and contribute to aroma; micrococci play a role mainly in color and aroma formation. Because micrococci require higher pH, the pH drop caused by lactobacilli may retard their growth. Preripening (keeping the sausage at 5°C for some days) can give micrococci a chance to grow before pH drop (3).

Depending on whether starter cultures (lactic starters alone or in combination with micrococci) are used or not, initial temperature (incubation) is basically different. In the presence of starter culture the temperature has to be adjusted to the microorganisms' need, usually below 30°C (18-24°C) in Europe and above 30°C (32-37°C) in the United States. The presence and metabolic activity of the starter culture contributes to product safety through its inhibitory effect against undesired microbes. But if no starter culture is added to the sausage batter, another inhibiting factor, low temperature, has to be relied on. This low temperature (usually below 10-12°C), together with common and curing salt, ensure sufficient protection against growth of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms until adequately reduced water activity ensures inhibition also at higher temperatures.

Types and application of starter cultures are discussed in several publications; some of them are mentioned here (4-6).

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