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Time-course estimation of evaporated water fluxes together with mean surface water activity in uncooked pressed cheeses during ripening using a purpose-built micro-bioreactor

Le Page, J.F., Dachraoui, O., Daudin, J.D., Mirade, P.S.
International dairy journal 2012 v.22 no.1 pp. 66-72
air, air flow, cheese ripening, cheeses, microorganisms, odors, relative humidity, water activity, water balance
During cheese ripening, surface water activity controls microbial flora activity and aroma development, essentially shaping the organoleptic properties of the cheese. An experimental micro-bioreactor was set up using air-product water balance to non-destructively estimate the time-course of mean water activity at the cheese surface under well-controlled airflow ripening conditions. Six trials were performed using this experimental device on uncooked pressed cheeses ripened until 30 days. These trials highlighted (1) the effects of a low air velocity and high relative humidity on the water exchanges occurring at the cheese surface, demonstrating strong surface sensitivity to external ripening air conditions, and (2) a close interaction between surface microbial flora development and the water transfers occurring both from cheese core to surface and at the surface itself, although further micro-bioreactor ripening trials are needed to fully clarify this interaction.