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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Processing Methods to Modify the Levels of Biologically Active Compounds in Milk and Cheese

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods

Title: The chemistry underlying the differences between cheese varieties


Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 17, 2010
Publication Date: March 27, 2011
Citation: Tunick, M.H. 2011. The chemistry underlying the differences between cheese varieties. Meeting Abstract. AGFD:065.

Technical Abstract: Americans consume 14 kg of cheese per capita without realizing the extent to which chemistry is responsible for the production of this food. Enzymes from starter culture microorganisms and the coagulant degrade protein (primarily casein), carbohydrates (mostly lactose), and lipids, generating the flavors and texture of cheese. Electrophoresis, electron microscopy, and rheology show that proteolysis, structural development, and functional properties depend on a number of factors, including species of animal producing the milk, processing conditions, and storage temperature and time. Goats’ milk, for example, contains significantly less as1-casein, the primary structural protein in cows’ milk cheese, resulting in a soft, easily fractured product. The types of starter and coagulant are responsible for development of different flavors, and the treatment of the cheese curd leads to variations in texture and melting properties. The characteristics of cheese depend on the chemistry involved in the way it is made and stored, and knowledge of this chemistry leads to the creation of a better product.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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