Cheddar cheese ripening involves the conversion of lactose to glucose and galactose or galactose-6-phosphate by starter and nonstarter lactic acid bacteria. Under ideal conditions (i.e., where bacteria grow under no stress of pH, water activity, and salt), these sugars are mainly converted to lactic acid. However, during ripening of cheese, survival and growth of bacteria occurs under the stressed condition of low pH, low water activity, and high salt content. This forces bacteria to use alternate biochemical pathways resulting in production of other organic acids. The objective of this study was to determine if the level and type of organic acids produced during ripening was influenced by calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P), residual lactose, and salt-to-moisture ratio (S/M) of cheese. Eight cheeses with 2 levels of Ca and P (0.67 and 0.47% vs. 0.53 and 0.39%, respectively), lactose at pressing (2.4 vs. 0.78%), and S/M (6.4 vs. 4.8%) were manufactured. The cheeses were analyzed for organic acids (citric, orotic, pyruvic, lactic, formic, uric, acetic, propanoic, and butyric acids) and residual sugars (lactose, galactose) during 48 wk of ripening using an HPLC-based method. Different factors influenced changes in concentration of residual sugars and organic acids during ripening and are discussed in detail. Our results indicated that the largest decrease in lactose and the largest increase in lactic acid occurred between salting and d 1 of ripening. It was interesting to observe that although the lactose content in cheese was influenced by several factors (Ca and P, residual lactose, and S/M), the concentration of lactic acid was influenced only by S/M. More lactic acid was produced in low S/M treatments compared with high S/M treatments. Although surprising for Cheddar cheese, a substantial amount (0.2 to 0.4%) of galactose was observed throughout ripening in all treatments. Minor changes in the levels of citric, uric, butyric, and propanoic acids were observed during early ripening, whereas during later ripening, a substantial increase was observed. A gradual decrease in orotic acid and a gradual increase in pyruvic acid content of the cheeses were observed during 12 mo of ripening. In contrast, acetic acid did not show a particular trend, indicating its role as an intermediate in a biochemical pathway, rather than a final product.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dairy Management, Inc. (Rosemont, IL) and Midwest Dairy Association (St. Paul, MN) for funding this project.
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- Cheddar cheese
- Organic acid