Impact of Fat Reduction on Flavor and Flavor Chemistry of Cheddar Cheeses

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Journal of Dairy Science



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A current industry goal is to produce a 75 to 80% fat-reduced Cheddar cheese that is tasty and appealing to consumers. Despite previous studies on reduced-fat cheese, information is critically lacking in understanding the flavor and flavor chemistry of reduced-fat and nonfat Cheddar cheeses and how it differs from its full-fat counterpart. The objective of this study was to document and compare flavor development in cheeses with different fat contents so as to quantitatively characterize how flavor and flavor development in Cheddar cheese are altered with fat reduction. Cheddar cheeses with 50% reduced-fat cheese (RFC) and low-fat cheese containing 6% fat (LFC) along with 2 full-fat cheeses (FFC) were manufactured in duplicate. Cheeses were ripened at 8°C and samples were taken following 2 wk and 3, 6, and 9 mo for sensory and instrumental volatile analyses. A trained sensory panel (n=10 panelists) documented flavor attributes of cheeses. Volatile compounds were extracted by solid-phase microextraction or solvent-assisted flavor evaporation followed by separation and identification using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-olfactometry. Selected compounds were quantified using external standard curves. Sensory properties of cheeses were distinct initially but more differences were documented as cheeses aged. By 9 mo, LFC and RFC displayed distinct burnt/rosy flavors that were not present in FFC. Sulfur flavor was also lower in LFC compared with other cheeses. Forty aroma-active compounds were characterized in the cheeses by headspace or solvent extraction followed by gas chromatography-olfactometry. Compounds were largely not distinct between the cheeses at each time point, but concentration differences were evident. Higher concentrations of furanones (furaneol, homofuraneol, sotolon), phenylethanal, 1-octen-3-one, and free fatty acids, and lower concentrations of lactones were present in LFC compared with FFC after 9 mo of ripening. These results confirm that flavor differences documented between full-fat and reduced-fat cheeses are not due solely to differences in matrix and flavor release but also to distinct differences in ripening biochemistry, which leads to an imbalance of many flavor-contributing compounds.

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