Influence of pH, Calcium, and Moisture on Physical Properties of Nonfat Mozzarella Cheese

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Dairy Science





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Influence of calcium, moisture, and pH on structure and functionality of direct-acid, nonfat Mozzarella cheese was studied. Acetic acid and citric acid were used to acidify milk to pH 5.8 and 5.3 with the aim of producing cheeses with 70 and 66% moisture, and 0.6 and 0.3% calcium levels. Cheeses containing 0.3% calcium were softer and more adhesive than cheeses containing 0.6% calcium, and flowed further when heated. Cheeses with the same calcium content (0.6%), the same moisture content, but set at different pH values (pH 5.3 and 5.8), exhibited no significant differences in melting or firmness. Increasing cheese moisture content from 66 to 70% produced a softer cheese but did not increase meltability. Such differences in functionality corresponded with differences in structure and arrangement of proteins in the cheese protein matrix. Microstructure of cheese with 0.6% calcium had an increase in protein folds and serum pockets compared with the 0.3% calcium cheeses that had a more homogeneous structure. Protein matrix in the low-calcium cheese appeared less dense indicating the proteins were more hydrated. In the 0.6% calcium cheeses, the proteins appeared more aggregated and had larger spaces between protein aggregates. Thus, between pH 5.3 and 5.8, calcium controls cheese functionality, and pH has only an indirect affect related to its influence on the calcium in cheese.