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Microbiological and Chemical Aspects of Cheddar Cheese Ripening. A Review1

  • E.H. Marth
    Affiliations
    Fundamental Research Laboratory, Research and Development Division, National Dairy Products Corporation, Glenview, Illinois
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Parts of this paper were presented at a Seminar of the Department of Food Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, on May 20, 1963.
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      Summary

      Flavor components of Cheddar cheese include carbonyl, nitrogenous, and sulfur compounds; fatty acids, alcohols, salt, water, and unmodified cheese fractions. Some of these compounds, individually and in mixtures, have been added to cheese curd to duplicate Cheddar flavor with little real success.
      Cheddar flavor development appears related to: condition of milk, ripening temperature, and microflora of the cheese.
      The microflora consists, primarily, of lactic streptococci, lactobacilli, and micrococci. Certain other microorganisms also have been observed. Homofermentative lactic streptococci contribute to finished cheese by producing acid and, through enzymes, liberating nitrogenous compounds from protein. They may degrade amino acids and ultimately produce aldehydes from them. Heterofermentative lactic streptococci often produce off-flavors and body defects. Streptococcus durans, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Streptococcus faecalis have been suggested as replacements for conventional starters in some Cheddar cheese-making processes.
      Lactobacillus casei (highest numbers attained after weeks or months of ripening), contributes to Cheddar flavor, probably, through lipolytic and proteolytic activities. The organism may degrade amino acids and liberate ammonia. Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus helveticus, and Lactobacillus lactis have been found in Cheddar cheese and are believed, in some instances, to contribute to flavor development. Some strains of these organisms and other lactobacilli may contribute off-flavors to ripened cheese.
      Certain micrococci, frequently observed in Cheddar cheese, may contribute to its flavor through proteolytic and lipolytic action.
      Microbiologically induced defects in Cheddar cheese include bitterness, rancidity, other off-flavors, open texture, and rusty spots. Some pathogenic bacteria are able to survive in Cheddar cheese for long periods of time.

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