Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Donald J. McMahon


Donald J. McMahon


Dr. Hansen


Dr. Oberg


Dr. Walsh


Dr. Dhiman


The effect of chemical parameters on cheese structure and functionality was studied by modifying the calcium, salt content, and pH of cheese. Cheese blocks were high-pressure injected from zero to five times with water, solutions of different salts, or an acid solution 14 d after manufacture. Successive injections were performed 24 h apart. After 40-42 d of refrigerated storage, cheese structure was studied by using scanning electron microscopy and digital image analysis, and cheese functionality was characterized by texture profile analysis and melting test.

Increased salt content of cheese (2.7 versus 0.1%) caused the protein matrix to become more hydrated and to expand (P < 0.1), though the occurrence of syneresis resulted in decreased moisture content of cheese (P < 0.05). Salt injection increased cheese hardness and the initial rate of cheese flow, but it decreased cheese cohesiveness (P < 0.05).

Increased calcium content (1.8 versus 0.3%) and decreased pH of cheese (4.7 versus 5.3) caused contraction of the protein matrix (P < 0.05) and release of serum. Thus, the matrix became less hydrated, and the moisture content and weight of cheese decreased (P < 0.05). Calcium injection decreased the pH and melting of cheese, but it increased cheese hardness (P < 0.05). Acid injection promoted calcium solubilization and decreased calcium content of cheese (P < 0.05). Above pH 5.0 (5.0-5.3), acid injection decreased cheese hardness and increased the initial rate of cheese flow (P < 0.05). Below pH 5.0 (5.0-4.7), acid injection decreased cheese cohesiveness, and the initial rate and extent of cheese flow (P < 0.05).

In conclusion, modifying the chemical composition of cheese alters protein interactions, resulting in cheese with different structural and functional properties. Increased salt content of cheese (up to 2.7%) impairs protein-to-protein interactions, and its effect is most significant when salt content increases from 0 to 0.5%. Below 5.0 (5.0- 4.7), the effect of pH predominates over calcium content, and decreased cheese pH promotes protein-to-protein interactions. Increased calcium content of cheese (up to 1.8%) also promotes protein-to-protein interactions, and the content of protein-bound calcium may be the major factor controlling the functionality of most cheeses.



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