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Gluconic acid is a non-volatile acid that has many applications in food, pharmaceutical and cleaning fields. Gluconic acid has been detected as main oxidation product of Acetobacter and Gluconobacter strains growing on grape must, and it plays an important role in Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. Commonly, high gluconate vinegars have a greater physical stability and a greater preference by consumers because are perceived less pungent. In fact, gluconic acid reduces the pH and increases fixed acidity of the vinegar without increasing the sensation of pungency typical of acetic acid. Its taste is acid but mild sweet and, therefore, gluconic acid has influence on the sensory complexity of the vinegar. The aim of this work is to set up a fermentation procedure that improves the quality of balsamic vinegar by using selected yeasts and acetic acid bacteria strains able to oxidize glucose in grape must-based media having a different sugars concentration. In particular, Saccharomycodes ludwigii UMCC 297 and Acetobacter pasteurianus UMCC 1754 strains were chosen as selected starter cultures for small-scale fermentation of cooked grape must, to evaluate the physical-chemical parameters affecting gluconic acid production in the obtained vinegar. The strains used and the control of all production process have been fundamental for obtaining the vinegar with the desired characteristics.
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