Although many studies have been conducted, towards the application of Exopolysaccharides (EPS)-producing Lactic Acid bacteria (LAB) in the manufacture of several dairy products (fermented milk, cheese), there are not many reports about the functional properties of the EPS extract itself. The industrial applications are hindered by the low yield of EPS and high costs of their purification. EPS is currently being used in the dairy, cereal, and beverage industries, and more recently in the bakery industry. As some LAB strains are generally recognized as safe and have been shown to exhibit probiotic activity, EPS from those bacteria can be used as functional food ingredients, conferring both health and economic benefits to the consumers. For the work being performed by this project, ropy and capsular exopolysaccharides will be tested in a model system, to understand the impact of EPS in a model system and later, EPS obtained from different dairy and nondairy cultures will be evaluated for exopolysaccharide production in that model system. Once we understand how the functional properties are impacted by the addition of these EPSs obtained from different cultures, it will help us to decide the top performing cultures and they will be scaled up to be tested on mozzarella production and the functional properties of the mozzarella cheese will be tested similar to the model system. Depending on the stage of the project, the experiments will be performed at Leprino Foods Company (LFC) and Utah State University (USU) locations. We envision growing, optimizing harvesting the cultures/EPS, and production of mozzarella cheese at the LFC location and studying the rheological impact of EPS on the model system and mozzarella cheese at the NDFS laboratory.
Phase 1: Evaluate capsular and ropy exopolysaccharide producing cultures in a model system
Phase 2: Evaluate up to 10 different cultures (dairy & non-dairy) for exopolysaccharide production, attempt separation/isolation of the exopolysaccharides and evaluate in the model system
Phase 3: Evaluate 3 different cultures/exopolysaccharides in the production of Mozzarella cheese