|Van Hekken, Diane|
Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/28/2006
Publication Date: 10/10/2006
Citation: Van Hekken, D.L., Drake, M.A., Molina, C.F., Prieto, G.V., Gardea, A.A. 2006. Mexican Chihuahua Cheese: Sensory profiles of young cheese from Chihuahua, Mexico. Journal of Dairy Science. 89:3729-3738. Interpretive Summary: The demand for Hispanic-style cheeses has grown tremendously in the US and yet the sensory traits (flavor and texture) that define these cheeses have not been studied extensively. The cheeses from Mexico and Latin America are made traditionally from raw milk which imparts unique flavors and textures to the cheeses that are not always captured in cheeses made from pasteurized milk (required in the US if the cheese is to be sold before 60 days of aging). As more cheeses are being made from pasteurized milk because of food safety concerns, it is necessary to establish the sensory profiles of the traditionally-made cheeses to ensure that the sensory identity of the cheeses are maintained in the pasteurized version. In this study, multiple samples of a popular Mexican semi-hard cheese developed by the Mennonite communities in the state of Chihuahua were obtained from cheese makers throughout Chihuahua and evaluated by trained flavor and texture panels in the US. Flavor profiles showed that Mennonite-style cheese was a mild flavored young cheese with the most prominent flavors being salty and sour. When compared to the cheeses made from pasteurized milk, the raw milk cheeses had more intense sour and bitter flavors and were perceived as being softer. Establishing the sensory traits of the raw milk cheeses is the first step in understanding the defining properties of the traditionally-made cheeses and providing guidance to cheese makers as pasteurized milk versions are developed.
Technical Abstract: Sensory profiles of fresh semi-hard Mennonite-style cheese produced in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua were developed to characterize the flavors and textures of this traditionally-made Hispanic-style cheese. Multiple allotments of Mennonite-style cheese, nine brands made with raw milk (RM) and five brands made with pasteurized milk (PM), were obtained within 3 days of manufacture from 12 different cheese plants throughout Chihuahua, Mexico. Cheeses were shipped overnight to Wyndmoor, PA and flavor analyses were conducted within 14 and 18 d after manufacture. Four brands (2 RM and 2 PM cheeses) then were selected and multiple allotments were shipped at three distinct seasons over a one year period for evaluation of flavor and texture. Microbial analysis was conducted prior to testing to ensure product safety. Descriptive analyses of cheese flavor and texture were conducted with panelists trained to use a universal or product specific SpectrumTM intensity scale, respectively. Sensory profiles of cheeses varied among the different manufacturers. The most prominent flavor attributes were salty, sour, diacetyl, cooked, whey, bitter, and milkfat. The RM cheeses had more intense sour, bitter, and prickle scores compared to PM cheeses. Many cheese texture attributes were similar, but RM cheeses were perceived as softer than PM cheeses. As the demand for Hispanic-style cheeses increases, defining and understanding the sensory attributes of traditionally-made Mexican cheeses provides guidance to cheese manufacturers as new ways are explored to improve the production and shelf life of the cheese.