Scientists from University of Copenhagen, Department of Food Science are, in co-operation with the Danish company Lactosan located in Ringe, responsible for the process of identifying the flavour profiles of various cheese powders.
Article by journalist, cand. scient. Birger Pedersen
Cheese powders are made from cheese, water and melting salt which are melted, pasteurised and spray-dried. When it comes to the question about the different components of the cheese powders and the features which characterise the odour, taste and flavour profiles of the individual cheese types, then we have so far had no investigations to rely on.
This is, however, now being rectified through a research project which began in 2008 and ended in December last year. Lactosan’s R&D manager, Inger Hansen, immediately responded to the idea of a collaboration with the Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, represented by Professor Ylva Ardo (project leader), post. doc. Camilla Varming, associate professor Mikael Agerlin Petersen and post. doc. Lene Tranberg Andersen.
Examination of three cheese powder types
Processing cheese powders from well-matured cheeses gives us a wide range of flavour components. Some of them have even a flavour and taste enhancing effect.
The researchers examined three different cheese powder types:
- Blue cheese powder from blue types of cheeses
- Cheese powder from surface-ripened cheeses
- Cheese powder from hard types of cheeses
“We started to perform sensory analyses of different kinds of cheese powders made from matured cheeses and then compared the sensory characteristics with the flavour compounds that we analysed chemically,” says Camilla Varming.
The investigations resulted in the following knowledge when the researchers compared the aroma compounds with the sensory descriptions:
- The blue cheese powder was characterised by a higher content of many aroma compounds, mainly esters and ketones, which are typical compounds produced by the various penicillium fungi species in blue mould cheeses. These compounds corresponded to the sensory properties of ‘fruity’ and ‘blue mould’ odour and flavour
- The cheese powders made from surface-ripened cheeses were characterised by various sulphur compounds and indole and phenol. These aroma compounds are typical products from the micro flora of the surface-ripening and correspond to the sensory properties of ‘smear’ odour and flavour
- Finally, the cheese powders made from hard types of cheeses were characterised by a lower content of aroma compounds and with sensory properties such as ‘harmony’, ‘umami’ and ‘kokumi’
Overall, it appeared then that there were big differences in the odour, taste and flavour profiles of the three different kinds of cheese powders.
“Besides this study we have by means of gas chromatography-olfactometry, where the nose is used as a detector, determined which aroma compounds are the most important for the odour of the three cheese powders. Furthermore, the sensory profiling of the three cheese powders are correlated to the chemical taste components of free fatty acids and amino acids,” says Camilla Varming.
“The objective was to achieve an identification of flavour compounds in matured cheeses to use as natural flavour and taste enhancement, and we succeeded,” continues Camilla Varming.
Great satisfaction at Lactosan
Cheese powder is found in a wide range of products such as ready meals, sauces, soups, desserts, snacks, cakes, biscuits, sauces, in spring rolls, in crisp bread and in the UK market in popular biscuits.
“We are now aware about the breadth of compounds contained in cheese powders, and how we can make new combinations of the naturally occurring flavour compounds for flavour and taste enhancement,” says Inger Hansen, R&D manager at Lactosan.