Use Of Artificial Bacteria Cultures For Cream Ripening

( Originally Published 1897 )

Bacteriologists have been for some time endeavouring to aid butter makers in this direction by furnishing them with the bacteria needful for the best results in cream ripening. The method of doing this is extremely simple in principle, but proves to be somewhat difficult in practice. It is only necessary to obtain the species of bacteria that produce the highest results, and then to furnish these in pure culture and in large quantity to the butter makers, to enable them to inoculate their cream with the species of bacteria which will produce the results that they desire. For this purpose bacteriologists have been for several years searching for the proper species of bacteria to produce the best results, and there have been put upon the market for sale several distinct "pure cultures" for this purpose. These have been obtained by different bacteriologists and dairymen in the northern European countries and also in the United States. These pure cultures are furnished to the dairymen in various forms, but they always consist of great quantities of certain kinds of bacteria which experience has found to be advantageous for the purpose of cream ripening.

There have hitherto appeared a number of difficulties in the way of reaching complete success in these directions. The most prominent arises in devising a method of using pure cultures in the creamery. The cream which the butter makers desire to ripen is, as we have seen, already impregnated with bac- teria, and would ripen in a fashion of its own even if no pure culture of bacteria were added thereto. Pure cultures can not therefore be used as simply as can yeast in bread dough. It is plain that the simple addition of a pure culture to a mass of cream would not produce the desired effects, because the cream would be ripened then, not by the pure culture alone, but by the pure culture plus all of the bacteria that were originally present. It would, of course, be something of a question as to whether under these conditions the results would be favourable, and it would seem that this method would not furnish any means of getting rid of bad tastes and flavours which have come from the presence of malign species of bacteria. It is plainly desirable to get rid of the cream bacteria before the pure culture is added. This can be readily done by heating it to a temperature of 69° C. (r55° F.) for a short time, this temperature being sufficient to destroy most of the bacteria. The subsequent addition of the pure culture of cream-ripening bacteria will cause the cream to ripen under the influence of the added culture alone. This method proves to be successful, and in the butter-making countries in Europe it is becoming rapidly adopted.

In this country, however, this process has not as yet become very popular, inasmuch as the heating of the cream is a matter of considerable expense and trouble, and our butter makers have not been very ready to adopt it. For this reason, and also for the purpose of familiarizing butter makers with the use of pure cultures, it has been attempted to produce somewhat similar though less uniform results by the use of pure cultures in cream without previous healing. In the use of pure cultures in this way, the butter maker is directed to add to his cream a large amount of a prepared culture of certain species of bacteria, upon the principle that the addition of such a large number of bacteria to the cream, even though the cream is already inoculated with certain bacteria, will produce a ripening of the cream chiefly influenced by the artificially added culture. The culture thus added, being present in very much greater quantity than the other "wild" species, will have a much greater effect than any of them. This method, of course, can-not insure uniformity. While it may work satisfactorily in many cases, it is very evident that in others, when the cream is already filled with a large number of malign species of bacteria, such an artificial culture would not produce the desired results. This appears to be not only the theoretical but the actual experience. The addition of such pure cultures in many cases produces favourable results, but it does not always do so, and the result is not uniform. While the use of pure cultures in this way is an advantage over the method of simply allowing the cream to ripen normally without such additions, it is a method that is decidedly inferior to that which first pasteurizes the cream and subsequently adds a starter.

There is still another method of adding bacteria to cream to insure a more advantageous ripening, which is frequently used, and, being simpler, is in many cases a decided advantage. This method is by the use of what is called a natural starter. A natural starter consists simply of a lot of cream which has been taken from the most favourable source possible—that is, from the cleanest and best dairy, or from the herd producing the best quality of cream—and allowing this cream to stand in a warm place for a couple of days until it becomes sour. The cream will by that time be filled with large numbers of bacteria, and this is then put as a starter into the vat of cream to be ripened. Of course, in the use of this method the butter maker has no control over the kinds of bacteria that will grow in the starter, but it is found, practically, that if the cream is taken from a good source the results are extremely favourable, and there is produced in this way almost always an improvement in the butter.

The use of pure cultures is still quite new, particularly in this country. In the European butter-making countries they have been used for a longer period and have become very much better known. What the future may develop along this line it is difficult to say ; but it seems at least probable that as the difficulties in the de-tails are mastered the time will come when starters will be used by our butter makers for their cream ripening, just as yeast is used by house-wives for raising bread, or by brewers for fermenting malt. These starters will probably in time be furnished by bacteriologists. Bacteriology, in other words, is offering in the near future to our butter makers a method of controlling the ripening of the cream in such a way as to insure the obtaining of a high and uniform quality of butter, so far, at least, as concerns flavour and aroma.

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