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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Dairy and Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #327518

Research Project: Effect of Processing of Milk on Bioactive Compounds in Fresh High-Moisture Cheeses

Location: Dairy and Functional Foods Research

Title: Characterization of Queso Fresco made with Na/K salt blends and stored for 12 weeks

item Van Hekken, Diane
item Tunick, Michael
item Renye, John
item Tomasula, Peggy

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/21/2016
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Health-conscious consumers are looking for ways to reduce dietary sodium yet want their cheeses to have the flavor, texture, and shelf-life of full-salt cheese. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of different Na-K salt blends and storage on the compositional, sensorial, microbial, functional, and rheological properties of Queso Fresco (QF), a fresh cheese with a distinct salty taste. QF was made in triplicate on different days with curds from each vat being divided and salted using 1.0% NaCl and 0.5, 1.0, 1.3, or 1.5% added KCl; a 2.0% NaCl QF control and a 0.75%:0.75% Na:K QF were also made. The QF were then stored at 4 deg C for up to 12 weeks. Although the variation in salt treatments were in a fairly narrow range, 1.5 to 2.5% total salt, differences (P is less than 0.05) in some of the QF characteristics were noted. Moisture and ash levels were influenced by salt content while storage impacted moisture and salt levels, water activity, and pH. Only QFs with 1.0% NaCl and 1.3 or 1.5% KCl had sensory saltiness scores similar to the 2.0% NaCl QF control. Loss of free serum from the cheese matrix significantly increased up to 7.5% over the 12 wk of the study with the samples at the higher levels of salt retaining more of the serum in the cheese matrix. Aerobic microbial counts decreased slightly after 2 wk for QF containing is greater than 1.5% salt, and all samples increased 1 to 2.7 logs by week 10. The variation in the salt content did not alter the non-melt characteristic of the QF samples, while the 2% NaCl QF control had the lowest change in color when baked (130 deg C for 30 min) and the QF containing 1.0 to 1.5% KCl had the lowest color change when broiled (232 deg C for 5 min). No significant differences were noted in texture hardness, springiness, or chewiness or in the viscoelastic properties among the treatments or over time. The minor differences in quality traits that resulted in aging QF made with 1% NaCl and 0.5 to 1.5% added KCl showed that KCl substitution was a viable route for reducing sodium in QF. The best overall Na-K blend for QFs were made using 1% NaCl and 1.3 or 1.5% KCl. Findings from this study will help in developing a reduced sodium QF that meets the demand of health-conscious consumers.