The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of inulin as a fat replacer on the rheological properties, coagulation kinetics, and syneresis of milk gels. A randomized factorial design, replicated 3 times, with 3 inulin concentrations (0, 3, and 6%), 2 levels of fat (<0.2 and 1.5%), and 3 coagulation temperatures (27, 32, and 37°C) was used. The coagulation process was monitored using near-infrared spectrometry, small amplitude oscillatory rheometry, and visual coagulation indexes. The syneresis was evaluated by volumetric methods. Inulin addition increased the rates of aggregation and curd firming reactions in the casein gels. The observed effect, which was more evident on the aggregation reaction, depended on the concentration of inulin and the coagulation temperature. Addition of 6% inulin reduced the clotting time by approximately 26% and the time at which the gel reached a storage modulus equal to 30Pa by approximately 36%. The optical parameter R'max, defined as the maximum value of change in light backscatter profile/change in time (where R' = dR/dt), was used to calculate an approximation of the temperature coefficients (Q10) for milk coagulation. Increasing fat concentration induced a consistent increase in all the optical, rheological, and visual parameters studied, although the observed trend was not statistically significant. The addition of inulin at a level of 6% produced a reduction in syneresis and increased the curd yield by approximately 30%. It was concluded that the addition of inulin affects the kinetics of milk coagulation and the cutting time and, therefore, the use of inline sensors such as near-infrared spectrometry may be necessary for optimal process control.
- Milk coagulation properties
- Near-infrared sensor