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Sesame proteins point to reduced milk cheese: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 28-Jun-2010
Last updated on 28-Jun-2010 at 15:34 GMT

The milk protein content of soft cheese may be reduced using sesame proteins, and tap into local tastes in China's booming dairy segment, suggests a new study from China and the US.

Cheese formulated with a medium level of sesame protein isolate showed the best overall characteristics, with low or high levels of sesame protein producing hard, gummy cheese, or cheese with a poor texture, respectively.

Researchers from the Agricultural University of China in Beijing and Missouri State University report their findings in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology.

“The possible utilisation of sesame protein in cheese is a rather new consideration, which could benefit the nutritional and ingredient diversity of cheeses and integrate a traditional protein resource into the recently introduced cheese consumption in China,” stated the researchers, led by Shangwu Chen.

Indeed, the researchers note that such proteins are already used in salad dressing and flavouring ingredients in a range of Asian foods, including “noodles, stir fries and a wide variety of pastries”.

Low milk cheese

In order to examine the potential of the sesame protein isolate (SPI) – an inexpensive protein source in China – in soft cheeses, Chen and co-workers manufactured cheeses with increasing levels of SPI, from 0 to 12 per cent.

Results showed that fermentation of the milk was slowed by adding the SPI, and that the time for formation of the cheese curd was also extended.

Low levels of SPI – 4 per cent – produced cheese with increased “hardness, cohesiveness, adhesiveness and gumminess”, said the researchers, while the top level of SPI (12 per cent) “deteriorated the texture”, they added.

The medium levels (8 per cent) of SPI were found to produce the best results, said the researchers.

Analysis of the microstructure of the cheese with a scanning electron microscopy revealed the SPI directly interacted with the casein protein in the milk.

“The microstructure observations not only explained the results of physical and rheological studies, but also provide mechanism guidelines to achieve better application and control of SPI-cheese products,” stated the researchers.

Chinese dairy

A recent Rabobank report listed two Chinese dairy companies in the top 20 global dairy companies. Topping the list is Nestle, but the 16th and 17th largest companies are China’s Mengniu and Yili.

Source: International Journal of Food Science & Technology
July 2010, Volume 45, Issue 7, Pages, 1368-1377
“Effect of sesame protein isolate in partial replacement of milk protein on the rheological, textural and microstructural characteristics of fresh cheese”
Authors: X. Lu, D. Schmitt, S. Chen

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