Traditionally fermented products are developed by local inhabitants of a region and the production method is handed down through generations. These methods result in products with variable quality and a short shelf-life. Motoho is a traditionally produced fermented sorghum beverage indigenous to the Basotho people of southern Africa. The current research aims to determine the effects of using a defined starter culture comprising of Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus plantarum compared to the traditional production, on the sensory qualities and shelf-life of motoho. Three different sorghums were used to produce batches A (traditional), J (modified) and M (modified) of motoho respectively. Samples were subjected to 4ºC and 37ºC storage for the shelf-life study while a sensory panel assessed the acceptability of each motoho variety. The microbiological counts for A, J and M incubated at 4ºC were 1 log cfu/ml, 1.48 log cfu/ml and 1.3 log cfu/ml on day 5 respectively. The counts for A, J and M incubated at 37ºC were 3.48 log cfu/ml, 3.18 log cfu/ml and 3.01 log cfu/ml on day 5 respectively. The largest amounts of ethyl and methyl esters were produced during the fermentation of J which could account for the preference in aroma and flavour by sensory panellists. Aldehydes were found in the fermentation of A while acetoin and butanediol were produced during the fermentation of M. Panellists also preferred the appearance of J but the mouth feel of M. The results from this study could be applied during upscaling of the production of motoho.
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