High-pressure treatment of milk: Effects on casein micelle structure and on enzymic coagulation

Eric C. Needs, Robert A. Stenning, Alison L. Gill, Victoria Ferragut, Gillian T. Rich

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    High isostatic pressures up to 600 MPa were applied to samples of skim milk before addition of rennet and preparation of cheese curds. Electron microscopy revealed the structure of rennet gels produced from pressure-treated milks. These contained dense networks of fine strands, which were continuous over much bigger distances than in gels produced from untreated milk, where the strands were coarser with large interstitial spaces. Alterations in gel network structure gave rise to differences in rheology with much higher values for the storage moduli in the pressure-treated milk gels. The rate of gel formation and the water retention within the gel matrix were also affected by the processing of the milk. Casein micelles were disrupted by pressure and disruption appeared to be complete at treatments of 400 MPa and above. Whey proteins, particularly β-lactoglobulin, were progressively denatured as increasing pressure was applied, and the denatured β-lactoglobulin was incorporated into the rennet gels. Pressure-treated micelles were coagulated rapidly by rennet, but the presence of denatured β-lactoglobulin interfered with the secondary aggregation phase and reduced the overall rate of coagulation. Syneresis from the curds was significantly reduced following treatment of the milk at 600 MPa, probably owing to the effects of a finer gel network and increased inclusion of whey protein. Levels of syneresis were more similar to control samples when the milk was treated at 400 MPa or less.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-42
    JournalJournal of Dairy Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2000


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