Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) are known to have positive health benefits. The production of blueberry vinegar is one method to preserve this seasonal fruit and allow extended consumption. In this study, blueberry wine acetification was performed with naturally occurring micro-organisms and with an inoculated Acetobacter cerevisiae strain. Acetifications were carried out in triplicate using the Schützenbach method. The successful spontaneous processes took up to 66% more time than the processes involving inoculation. The isolation of acetic acid bacteria (AAB) and the analysis of these AAB using molecular methods allowed the identification of the main genotypes responsible of the blueberry acetification. Although the Acet. cerevisiae strain was the predominant strain isolated from the inoculated process samples, Acetobacter pasteurianus was isolated from samples for both processes and was the only species present in the spontaneous acetification samples. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report describing the identification and variability of AAB isolated during blueberry acetification. The isolated Acet. pasteurianus strains could be used for large-scale blueberry vinegar production or as a starter culture in studies of other vinegar production methods.Significance and Impact of the Study
In this study, the Acetic Acid Bacteria population involved in blueberry vinegar production using Schützenbach method is first reported. Inoculation of an Acetobacter cerevisiae strain speeded up and conducted the process compared to spontaneous process. However, two genotypes of Acetobacter pasteurianus were also isolated in both processes (inoculated and spontaneous). These Acet. pasteurianus isolates can be exploited for studies of inoculation in vinegar production from blueberry or other raw material using Schützenbach method or other vinegar production methods.