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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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A long-standing mystery about the molecular structure of casein-the main protein group in milk-has been solved. the new information is helping cheese producers develop more effective and reliable processing methods. ARS scientists learned that, at the molecular level, casein is truly unique. Its structure is very loose, and it contains at least 10 times as much water as any other protein. This discovery may enable cheesemakers to automate the initial and often costliest stage of cheese production-the step when enzymes are added to milk.

We've also come up with a chemical test that helps cheesemakers make sure their cheeses are properly aged and ready to sell. It's a procedure that commercial dairies can automate to check such products as Cheddar, feta, and Monterey Jack.

Imagine an all-natural new mozzarella cheese that contains less than 10 percent fat-that's less than half the 23 percent in full-fat mozzarella! Our innovative new cheese technology gives superior melting quality and texture to commercial reduced-fat mozzarella cheeses. And, our team of teenage taste-testers reports, it's great on pizza!

Photo by Scott Bauer.



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Last Modified: 5/23/2006