Plant derived beverages have recently gained consumers’ interest, particularly due to their intrinsic functional properties. They can also act as non-dairy carriers for probiotics and prebiotics, meeting the needs of lactose allergic/intolerant people and vegans. Direct fermentation of fruit and vegetables juices by probiotic lactic acid bacteria could be a tool to increase safety, shelf-life, nutrients bioavailability and to improve sensorial features of plant derived juices. This study aims to screen wild Lactobacillus casei-group strains isolated from dairy matrices for probiotic features, such as acid and bile salts resistance, and test them for the potentiality to ferment celery and orange juices. Strains’ ability to produce exopolysaccharides (EPS) in situ is also checked. These evaluations were performed for the first time in fruit and vegetables matrices by means of an impedometric analysis, recently shown to be a suitable and rapid method to measure microorganisms’ growth, acidification performances and EPS production. This study allowed the selection of three potentially probiotic L. casei-group wild strains able to ferment fruit and vegetable juices and also producing EPS. These strains with three-in-one abilities could be used to produce new functional fermented plant derived juices.
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