Manufacture of reduced-sodium Cheddar-style cheese with mineral salt replacers

J. Grummer, M. Karalus, K. Zhang, Z. Vickers, T. C. Schoenfuss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The use of mineral salt replacers to reduce the sodium content in cheese has been investigated as a method to maintain both the salty flavor and the preservative effects of salt. The majority of studies of sodium reduction have used mineral salt replacers at levels too low to produce equal water activity (aw) in the finished cheese compared with the full-sodium control. Higher aw can result in differences in cheese quality due to differences in the effective salt-to-moisture ratio. This creates differences in biochemical and microbial reactions during aging. We hypothesized that by targeting replacer concentrations to produce the same aw as full sodium cheese, changes in cheese quality would be minimized. Stirred-curd Cheddar-style cheese was manufactured and curd was salted with NaCl or naturally reduced sodium sea salt. Reduced-sodium cheeses were created by blends of NaCl or sea salt with KCl, modified KCl, MgCl2, or CaCl2 before pressing. Sodium levels in reduced-sodium cheeses ranged from 298 to 388mg of sodium/100g, whereas the control full-sodium cheese had 665mg/100g. At 1 wk of age, aw of reduced-sodium cheeses were not significantly different from control, which had an aw of 0.96. The pH values of all reduced-sodium cheeses, excluding the treatment that combined sea salt and MgCl2, were lower than those of full-sodium cheese, indicating that the starter culture was possibly less inhibited at the salting step by the replacers than by NaCl. Instrumental hardness values of the treatments with sea salt were higher than in cheeses containing NaCl, with the exception of the NaCl/CaCl2 treatment, which was the hardest. Treatments with MgCl2 and modified KCl were generally less hard than other treatments. In-hand and first-bite firmness values correlated with the instrumental texture profile analysis results. Both CaCl2 and MgCl2 produced considerable off-flavors in the cheese (bitter, metallic, unclean, and soapy), as measured by descriptive sensory analysis with a trained panel. Bitterness ratings for cheese with KCl and modified KCl were not significantly different from the full-sodium control. Potassium chloride can be used successfully to achieve large reductions in sodium when replacing a portion of the NaCl in Cheddar cheese.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2830-2839
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Cheese
  • Salt replacer
  • Sodium reduction
  • Water activity

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