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Influence of an exopolysaccharide produced by a starter on milk coagulation and curd syneresis

Costa, N.E., O’Callaghan, D.J., Mateo, M.J., Chaurin, V., Castillo, M., Hannon, J.A., McSweeney, P.L.H., Beresford, T.P.
International dairy journal 2012 v.22 no.1 pp. 48-57
Cheddar cheese, coagulation, confocal laser scanning microscopy, cutting, exopolysaccharides, manufacturing, microstructure, milk, starter cultures
The objective of this study was to assess the effect of an exopolysaccharide-producing starter culture on milk coagulation and curd syneresis during the manufacture of half-fat Cheddar cheese by comparing the effect of an exopolysaccharide-producing starter with its non exopolysaccharide-producing isogenic variant. Coagulation and syneresis were monitored using light backscatter sensor technologies and the charge of the exopolysaccharide was also established. The distribution of the exopolysaccharide within the cheese microstructure was investigated by staining with Concavalin A and using confocal laser scanning microscopy. The study indicated that the exopolysaccharide produced by this starter culture did not interfere with coagulation but had a significant effect on reducing syneresis shortly after cutting. No charge was found on the exopolysaccharide under the measurement conditions. The exopolysaccharide was observed to be uniformly distributed throughout the cheese matrix and specifically located near the aqueous pores, possibly binding moisture and causing the observed decrease in syneresis.