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FEMS Yeast Res. 2008 Aug;8(5):788-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1567-1364.2008.00405.x. Epub 2008 Jul 8.

Fermentation of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) seeds with a hybrid Kluyveromyces marxianus strain improved product quality attributes.

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Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, and Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz, Universidade de São Paulo, Piracicaba, SP, Brazil.


Fermentation of Theobroma cacao (cacao) seeds is an absolute requirement for the full development of chocolate flavor precursors. An adequate aeration of the fermenting cacao seed mass is a fundamental prerequisite for a satisfactory fermentation. Here, we evaluated whether a controlled inoculation of cacao seed fermentation using a Kluyveromyces marxianus hybrid yeast strain, with an increased pectinolytic activity, would improve an earlier liquid drainage ('sweatings') from the fermentation mass, developing a superior final product quality. Inoculation with K. marxianus increased by one third the volume of drained liquid and affected the microorganism population structure during fermentation, which was detectable up to the end of the process. Introduction of the hybrid yeast affected the profile of total seed protein degradation evaluated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, with improved seed protein degradation, and reduction of titrable acidity. Sensorial evaluation of the chocolate obtained from beans fermented with the K. marxianus inoculation was more accepted by analysts in comparison with the one from cocoa obtained through natural fermentation. The increase in mass aeration during the first 24 h seemed to be fundamental for the improvement of fermentation quality, demonstrating the potential application of this improved hybrid yeast strain with superior exogenous pectinolytic activity.

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