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Title: Sensory and rheological traits of Mexican Queso Chihuahua

item Van Hekken, Diane
item Tunick, Michael

Submitted to: Dairy Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/16/2008
Publication Date: 11/7/2008
Citation: Van Hekken, D.L., Drake, M., Tunick, M.H., Guerrero, V.M., Molina-Corral, J.M., Gardea, A.A. 2008. Sensory and rheological traits of Mexican Queso Chihuahua. Dairy Science Technology. 88:525-536.

Interpretive Summary: With Hispanic-style cheeses, such as Queso Chihuahua from northern Mexico, many of the expected flavors and textures found in the traditional raw milk cheeses are not always found in the versions made from pasteurized (heated) milk. In the U.S, cheeses sold within 60 d of being manufactured, such as Queso Chihuahua, must by regulation be made from pasteurized milk. In this study, the flavor and texture properties of Queso Chihuahua were measured in cheeses made from either raw or pasteurized milk, collected during three distinct seasons, and made by different manufacturers. Flavor was not affected by seasonal variations in the milk as much as it was by manufacturer. Many of the cheese texture attributes were similar but raw milk cheeses were perceived as being softer than the pasteurized versions. As the demand for Hispanic-style cheeses increases, defining and understanding the quality traits of the traditionally made Mexican cheeses will help the cheese producers make safer versions of the cheese.

Technical Abstract: Traditionally, Mexican Queso Chihuahua has been made from raw milk but there are food safety issues for cheeses sold with minimal aging. Pasteurization of the cheesemilk will reduce food safety risks but there are concerns that the sensory traits unique to this cheese will be altered. As part of an international study to characterize the properties of fresh Queso Chihuahua from México, the seasonal changes in the flavors and textures (sensorial and rheological traits) of young cheese made with raw milk (RM) or pasteurized milk (PM) were determined. Four selected brands of Queso Chihuahua from northern México were obtained within days of manufacture during the winter, spring, and summer seasons and stored at 4°C until evaluated; at day 10 for rheology and between days 14 to 18 for sensory. Descriptive analyses of flavors and textures were conducted with panelists trained to a universal or product specific Spectrum™ intensity scale, respectively. Microbial analyses were conducted prior to testing to ensure product safety. Rheological properties were measured using texture profile, small amplitude oscillatory shear, and torsion analyses. Results showed that the most prominent attributes in the young cheeses were salty, sour, diacetyl, cooked, whey, bitter, and milkfat flavors with RM cheeses having more intense sour and bitter notes compared to the PM cheeses. Many of the cheese texture attributes were similar, but RM cheeses were perceived as softer than the PM cheeses. Rheological results supported that the RM cheeses were softer and their properties more variable than the PM cheeses. Seasonal differences were within expected brand-to brand variation although RM cheeses had more variability than the PM cheeses. As the demand for Hispanic-style cheeses increases, defining and understanding the sensorial and rheological attributes of traditionally made Mexican cheeses provides guidance to the cheese manufacturers as new ways are explored to manufacture the pasteurized version of the cheese.