Increasing Stringiness of Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese Using Polysaccharides

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Journal of Dairy Science





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When fat content of pasta filata cheese is lowered, a loss of fibrous texture occurs and low-fat (LF) mozzarella cheese loses stringiness, making it unsuitable for the manufacture of string cheese. We investigated the use of various polysaccharides that could act as fat mimetics during the stretching and extruding process to aid in protein strand formation and increase stringiness. Low-fat mozzarella cheese curd was made, salted, and then 3.6-kg batches were heated in hot (80°) 5% brine, stretched, and formed into a homogeneous mass. Hot (80°C) slurries of various polysaccharides were then mixed with the hot cheese and formed into LF string cheese using a small piston-driven extruder. Polysaccharides used included waxy corn starch, waxy rice starch, instant tapioca starch, polydextrose, xanthan gum, and guar gum. Adding starch slurries increased cheese moisture content by up to 1.6% but was not effective at increasing stringiness. Xanthan gum functioned best as a fat mimetic and produced LF string cheese that most closely visually resembled commercial string cheese made using low-moisture part skim (LMPS) mozzarella cheese without any increase in moisture content. Extent of stringiness was determined by pulling apart the cheese longitudinally and observing size, length, and appearance of individual cheese strings. Hardness was determined using a modified Warner-Bratzler shear test. When LF string cheese was made using a 10% xanthan gum slurry added at ~1%, increased consumer flavor liking was observed, with scores after 2 wk of storage of 6.44 and 6.24 compared with 5.89 for the LF control cheese; although this was lower than an LMPS string cheese that scored 7.27. The 2-wk-old LF string cheeses containing xanthan gum were considered still slightly too firm using a just-about-right (JAR) test, whereas the LMPS string cheese was considered as JAR for texture. With further storage up to 8 wk, all of the LF string cheeses softened (JAR score was closer to 3.0); however, much of the stringiness of the LF string cheeses was also lost during storage. We have demonstrated the potential feasibility of increasing stringiness in LF string cheese using polysaccharides with xanthan gum, although further research is needed to develop quantitative methodology for measuring stringiness and to maintain stringiness through the extended refrigerated shelf life needed for string cheese.

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