Physicochemical and sensory characterization of Cheddar cheese with variable NaCl levels and equal moisture content

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The present study investigated the effect of salt (NaCl) on the flavor and texture of Cheddar cheese with the particular aim to elucidate consequences of, and strategies for, reducing the salt concentration. Descriptive sensory analysis and physicochemical mapping of 9-mo-old Cheddar cheeses containing 0.9, 1.3, 1.7, and 2.3% salt and an equal level of moisture (37.6 ± 0.1%) were undertaken. Moisture regulation during manufacture resulted in slightly higher calcium retention (158 to 169 mmol/kg) with decreasing NaCl concentration. Lactose was depleted only at 0.9 and 1.3% salt, resulting in concomitantly higher levels of lactate. Lower levels of casein components and free amino acids were observed with decreasing NaCl concentration, whereas levels of pH 4.6-soluble peptides were higher. Key taste-active compounds, including small hydrophobic peptides, lactose, lactate, and free amino acids, covaried positively with bitter, sweet, sour, and umami flavor intensities, respectively. An additional direct effect of salt due to taste–taste enhancement and suppression was noted. Sensory flavor profiles spanned a principal component dimension of palatability projecting true flavor compensation of salt into the space between cheeses containing 1.7 and 2.3% salt. This space was characterized by salt, umami, sweet, and a range of sapid flavors, and was contrasted by bitter and other off-flavors. Rheological and sensory measurements of texture were highly correlated. Cheeses made with 2.3% salt had a longer and slightly softer texture than cheeses containing 0.9, 1.3, and 1.7% salt, which all shared similar textural properties. Moisture regulation contributed to restoring the textural properties upon a 50% reduction in salt, but other factors were also important. On the other hand, significant flavor deterioration occurred inevitably. We discuss the potential of engineering a favorable basic taste profile to restore full palatability of Cheddar with a 50% reduction in salt.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1953-1971
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ID: 45127274