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Proteolysis and texture of hard ewes' milk cheese during ripening as affected by somatic cell counts

Revilla, I., Jose Manuel Rodrıguez-Nogales, J.M., Vivar-Quintana, A.M.
Journal of dairy research 2007 v.74 no.2 pp. 127-136
water content, proteolysis, hard cheeses, ewe milk, cheese ripening, somatic cell count, somatic cells, texture, pH, milk composition, beta-casein, sensory properties, renneting
Ewes' milk samples with low (<500000 ml(-1)), medium (100000-1500000 ml(-1)) and high (>2 500 000 ml(-1)) somatic cell counts (SCC) were used to manufacture hard ewes' cheese using the Zamorano cheese manufacturing protocol. Cheeses that had been ripened for 1, 2 and 3 months were used to obtain isoelectric ovine casein that was analysed by capillary electrophoresis. The texture of the cheeses during ripening was determined instrumentally using the Warner-Bratzler maximum shear force and assessed for sensory qualities by consumers using hedonic tests. The study revealed that the pH value and the lactose content of the milk were affected by high SCC and that the coagulation properties were dependent on the somatic cell content. The protein and moisture contents of the cheeses were unaffected by SCC but a significant increase of pH with ripening time were observed in high-SCC cheeses. The results also pointed to a significant increase in proteolysis related to SCC levels, showing that intact casein, both as alphas(1) and beta-casein, decreased as the SCC of milk increased, and that the proteolytic fragments, mainly I-alphas(1), increased with SCC levels. Significant differences in texture were found among the samples, the cheeses made with high levels of SCC being significantly less compact at each ripening time. The differences in texture were detected by the consumers, who reported defects in cheeses made with high levels of SCC. Indeed, high SCC cheeses were significantly less well accepted.