In order to encourage Western populations to increase their consumption of vegetables, we suggest turning legumes into novel, healthy foods by applying an old, previously widespread method of food preservation: fermentation. In the present study, a total of 55 strains from different microbial species (isolated from cheese or plants) were investigated for their ability to: (i) grow on a emulsion containing 100% pea proteins and no carbohydrates or on a 50:50 pea:milk protein emulsion containing lactose, (ii) increase aroma quality and reduce sensory off-flavors; and (iii) compete against endogenous micro organisms. The presence of carbohydrates in the mixed pea:milk emulsion markedly influenced the fermentation by strongly reducing the pH through lactic fermentation, whereas the absence of carbohydrates in the pea emulsion promoted alkaline or neutral fermentation. Lactic acid bacteria assigned to Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus casei species grew well in both the pea and pea:milk emulsions. Most of the fungal strains tested (particularly those belonging to the Mucor and Geotrichum genera) were also able to grow on both emulsions. Although most Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria did not compete with endogenous microbiota (Bacillus), some species such as Hafnia alvei, Acinetobacter johnsonii and Glutamicibacter arilaitensis grew strongly and appeared to restrict the development of the endogenous microbiota when the pea emulsion was inoculated with a combination of three to nine strains. In the mixed emulsions, lactic fermentation inhibited Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria (e.g. Brevibacterium casei, Corynebacterium casei, Staphylococcus lentus) to the greatest extent but also inhibited Bacillus (e.g. Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis). Overall, this procedure enabled us to select two microbial consortia able to colonize pea-based products and positively influence the release of volatile compounds by generating a roasted/grilled aroma for the 100% pea emulsion, and a fruity, lactic aroma for the 50:50 pea:milk emulsion. Moreover, the fermentation in the pea-based emulsions reduced the level of hexanal, which otherwise leads to an undesired green pea aroma. Our present results show how the assembly of multiple microbial cultures can help to develop an innovative food product.
Keywords: Aroma profile; Bacteria; Fungi; Legume; Microbial assembly.
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