Chemical and microbiological composition of four Argentinean kefir grains from different sources as well as characteristics of the corresponding fermented milk were studied. Kefir grains CIDCA AGK1, AGK2 and AGK4 did not show significant differences in their chemical and microbiological composition. In contrast, protein and yeast content of AGK3 was higher than in the other grains. Although grain microflora comprised lactobacilli, lactococcus, acetic acid bacteria and yeast, we found an important difference regarding species. Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactobacillus kefir, Lactobacillus plantarum, Acetobacter and Saccharomyces were present in all types of kefir grain. While Leuconostoc mesenteroides was only isolated from grains CIDCA AGK1 and Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis, Lactobacillus parakefir and Kluyveromyces marxianus were only isolated from CIDCA AGK2 grains. All grains produced acid products with pH between 3·5 and 4·0. The apparent viscosity of AGK1 fermented milk was greater than the product obtained with AGK4. All fermented milks had inhibitory power towards Escherichia coli but AGK1 and AGK2 supernatants were able to halt the bacterial growth for at least 25 h. Grain weight increment in AGK1, AGK2 and AGK3 during growth in milk did not show significant differences. Despite their fermenting activity, AGK4 grains did not increase their weight.
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