The effects of pH values and NaCl concentrations on the growth rates of five species of lactic acid bacteria commonly associated with the sauerkraut fermentation were determined in filter-sterilized cabbage juice. Growth rates of all cultures, with the exception of Pediococcus cerevisiae, were retarded by addition of salt, lower pH, or interaction of both pH and salt. Based upon lag and generation times, P. cerevisiae was the culture most tolerant to the pH and salt concentration employed, whereas Streptococcus faecalis was the most sensitive species. Of the heterofermentative cultures, Lactobacillus brevis was less subject to growth inhibition than Leuconostoc mesenteroides.

Under conditions simulating those found during the initial phases of the sauerkraut fermentation (2.25% salt, pH 6.2), L. mesenteroides displayed the shortest lag and generation times of all cultures examined. This rapid growth rate coupled with a marked accelerated death rate may explain, in part, the reason this species is both the first to dominate and the first to die during the early phases of the sauerkraut fermentation. Although cabbage juice previously fermented by L. mesenteroides appears to inhibit growth of P. cerevisiae, it had no apparent inhibitory or stimulatory effects on the other cultures.

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Author notes

1Approved by the Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station for publication as Journal Paper No. 1883, May 20, 1971.