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Influence of Presalting and Brine Concentration on Salt Uptake by Ragusano Cheese

C. Melilli, D. M. Barbano 2, G. Licitra, G. Tumino, G. Farina, and S. Carpino

CoRFiLaC, Regione Siciliana,97100 Ragusa, Italy

Abstract

The impact of presalting and nonsaturated brine on salt uptake by Ragusano cheese was determined. The study included four treatments: 1) the traditional method using no presalting and saturated brine, 2) presalting and saturated brine, 3) no presalting and 18% brine for 8 d followed by 16 d in saturated brine, and 4) presalting and 18% brine for 8 d followed by 16 d in saturated brine. Cheese blocks were weighed and sampled before brine salting (time 0) and after 1, 4, 8, 16, and 24 d of brining for each treatment. Presalting delivered 60% of the normal level of salt in the center of the block prior to brine salting without decreasing the rate of uptake of salt from either saturated or 18% brine. Use of 18% salt brine for the first 8 d of 24 d of brine salting increased the rate of salt uptake, compared with 24 d in saturated brine. The increased rate of salt uptake with 18% brine compared with saturated brine was related to the impact of salt brine on the moisture content and porosity of the cheese near the surface of the block. Brine with higher salt content causes a rapid loss of moisture from cheese near the surface of the block. Moisture loss causes shrinkage of the cheese structure and decreases porosity, which impedes moisture movement out and salt movement into the block. The use of 18% salt brine for the first 8 d delayed the moisture loss and cheese shrinkage at the exterior of the block and allowed more salt penetration.

Keywords: brine, presalting, Ragusano cheese

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D. M. Barbano

Prof. the Northeast Dairy Foods Research, Cornell University (USA)