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Monitor composition, flavor quality of Cheddar cheese during ripening using rapid spectroscopy.

The composition and flavor of Cheddar cheese, which partly influence how consumers accept the product, develop during the ripening process. However, ripening is not well understood due to the complexity of the process and the heterogeneous nature of cheese.

Being able to rapidly monitor the composition and flavor of cheese and understand the cheese-ripening process hold many advantages for the cheesemaker. Techniques that can be used to simultaneously monitor multiple components can save time and money for the industry. With this in mind, scientists at The Ohio State University developed a rapid method based on Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy capable of monitoring the composition and flavor quality of Cheddar cheese during ripening. This technique shows great promise as a rapid and cost-effective analytical and quality control tool for cheesemakers. It will facilitate monitoring and controlling cheese ripening to achieve desired quality.

Twelve different Cheddar cheese samples, ripened for a period of 73 days, were provided by a commercial cheese manufacturer, along with their moisture, pH, salt, fat content and flavor quality data. Samples were collected on days 7, 15, 30, 45 and 73 during the ripening period. These were powdered and extracted using organic solvents. Researchers analyzed the extracted water soluble fractions for organic acid and amino acid content using liquid and gas chromatography, respectively.

For FT-IR analysis, the researchers dried the extracts on zinc selenide crystals and scanned them in a spectrometer with a spectral range of 4000-700 [cm.sup.-1]. The spectra of the samples were matched with the composition and quality data to develop multivariate statistical regression and classification models. The regression models were an excellent fit and were able to determine the moisture, pH, salt, fat, amino acid and organic acid content of the samples in less than 20 minutes.

Furthermore, cheeses could also be classified based on their flavor. The infrared region of the spectra, 1800-900 [cm.sup.-1], consisting of signals from amino acids, organic acids and fatty acids, contributed to the discrimination of samples.

Further information. Luis E. Rodriguez-Saona, Department of Food Science, The Ohio State University, 325 Parker Food Science and Tech Building, 2015 Fyffe Rd., Columbus, OH 43210; phone: 614-292-3339; fax: 614-292-0218; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:May 1, 2009
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