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J Dairy Sci. 2011 Mar;94(3):1239-42. doi: 10.3168/jds.2010-3349.

Effect of different growth conditions on biomass increase in kefir grains.

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Department of Food Engineering, Engineering Faculty, Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta 32260, Turkey.


Kefir is a functional dairy product and the effects of kefir consumption on health have been well documented. Kefir grains have naturally high numbers of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts and are used in manufacturing kefir. The biomass of kefir grains slowly increases after successive fermentations. The effects of adding whey protein isolate, modified whey protein (MWP, fat replacer; Carbery Inc., Cork, Ireland), or inulin to milk and different atmospheric conditions (ambient or 6% CO(2)) during fermentation on the increase in biomass of kefir grains were investigated. Reconstituted milks (10% milk powder) enriched with whey protein isolate (2%), MWP (2%), and inulin (2%) were inoculated with kefir grains and fermented in ambient and 6% CO(2) incubators at 25°C until a final pH of 4.6 was reached. Biomass increments of kefir grains were determined weekly over 30 d. Lactic acid bacteria and yeast contents of kefir grains were also determined. The highest biomass increase (392%) was found in kefir grains grown in milk supplemented with whey protein isolate under ambient atmospheric conditions. Application of CO(2) did not provide a significant supporting effect on the biomass of kefir grains. Addition of MWP significantly accelerated the formation of kefir grain biomass (223%). The use of whey protein isolate, MWP, or inulin in milk did not cause any adverse effects on the microbial flora of kefir grains.

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