Lipolysis and Proteolysis in Ragusano Cheese During Brine Salting at Different Temperatures

C. Melilli,1 D. M. Barbano,2 M. Manenti,1 J. M. Lynch,2 S. Carpino,1 and G. Licitra 1,3

1- CoRFiLaC, Regione Siciliana, 97100 Ragusa, Italy
2- Northeast Dairy Food Research Center, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
3- Dipartimento di Scienze Agronomiche, Agrochimiche e delle Produzioni Animali, Catania University, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95100 Catania, Italy


The influence of temperature (12, 15, 18, 21, and 24°C) of saturated brine on lipolysis and proteolysis in 3.8-kg blocks of Ragusano cheese during 24 d of brining was determined. Twenty-six 3.8-kg blocks were made on each day. The cheese making was replicated on 3 different days. All blocks were labeled and weighed prior to brining. One block was sampled and analyzed prior to brine salting. Five blocks were placed into each of 5 different brine tanks at different temperatures. One block was removed from each brine tank after 1, 4, 8, 16, and 24 d of brining, weighed, sampled, and analyzed. Both proteolysis and lipolysis in Ragusano cheese increased with increasing brine temperature (from 12 to 24°C), with the impact of brine temperature on proteolysis and lipolysis becoming progressively larger. Proteolysis was highest in the interior of the blocks where salt in moisture content was lowest and temperature had more impact on proteolysis in the interior position of the block than the exterior position. However, the opposite was true for lipolysis. The total free fatty acid content was higher and temperature had more impact on lipolysis at the exterior position of the block where salt in moisture was the highest. This effect
of increased salt concentration on lipolysis was confirmed with direct salted cheeses in a small follow-up experiment. Lipolysis increased with increasing salt in the moisture content of the direct salted cheeses. It is likely that migration of water-soluble FFA from the brine into the cheese and from the interior portion of the cheese to the exterior portion of the cheese also contributed to a higher level of FFA at the exterior portion of the blocks. As brine temperature increased the profile of individual free fatty acids released from triglycerides changed, with the proportion of shortchain free fatty acids increasing with increasing brine temperature. This effect was largest at high salt in moisture content.

Keywords: free fatty acids, lipolysis, proteolysis, Ragusano cheese

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D. M. Barbano

Prof. Northeast Dairy Food Research Center, Department of Food Science, Cornell University (USA)