Faster, safer and cleaner cheese ripening 

Gert van den Hoven, Cheese Expert at DSM Food & Beverage

The global cheese market is booming,1 but change is afoot. While taste and texture remain at the top of consumers’ wish lists, people are also prioritizing cleaner labels and taking steps to lower their carbon footprint. These converging trends create a challenging landscape for cheese manufacturers, who must balance these demands while also remaining innovative and profitable.

Normally, removing preservatives to meet clean label requirements often means overhauling existing manufacturing processes. But to truly deliver on consumers’ complex concerns, cleaner labels must be prioritized throughout the supply chain – from ingredient to end-product. Food manufacturers are increasingly asking their suppliers to ensure their ingredients are preservative-free in order to support label claims and prevent cross-contamination. For producers of cheese and whey, creating benzoate-free whey is a high priority.

So, how can cheese producers tap into these leading trends to ensure they stand out on the retail shelf, without incurring a significant cost burden or compromising the consumer taste experience?

Transparency is an expectation, not a choice

The clean label trend continues to gather momentum, leading to sweeping changes in product formulation that demand fewer additives, including preservatives, in favor of more natural, recognizable ingredients. Commonly accepted (and safe) preservatives like benzoate – which help inhibit the growth of mold, yeast and some bacteria to extend shelf life – are now falling out of favor with food producers, as many move away from them and scrutinize their supply chains to deliver more preservative-free products. 

Creating a preservative-free supply chain

While cheesemakers do not traditionally use preservatives during the production process, they can be used to preserve cheese-making enzymes, ensuring their stability in transit from ingredient supplier to food manufacturing facility. But food companies purchasing whey ingredients are increasingly looking for whey produced with preservative-free enzymes to meet demand for transparency.

Even more stringent, enzymes formulated with benzoate are not allowed to be used in food or ingredients that will end up in infant formula. For these reasons, makers of cheese and whey products are asking enzyme suppliers to ensure their enzymes are also preservative-free. But again, this cannot come at the cost of taste, texture or sustainability.

Efficient, sustainable and delicious cheese production

While enzymes can play many roles in cheese production, such as coagulation, they are less often used to enhance cheese ripening as they have a reputation for imparting undesirable side-effects in both the cheese and the whey. Now, preservative-free solutions like DSM’s Accelerzyme® CPG change this by accelerating cheese ripening without disturbing its structure, while also providing benefits for flavor development. Importantly, faster ripening also contributes to a more efficient process for cheesemakers and enables them to take steps toward reducing their products’ carbon footprint. According to DSM’s analysis, reducing the ripening time of 1 million kilograms of continental cheese from four weeks to two weeks could save around €200,000 in production costs.2

Accelerzyme® CPG, a carboxypeptidase enzyme, releases small peptides and amino acids from the carboxy-terminus of proteins and peptides at a low pH during ripening. This accelerates ripening and also enables the cheese culture to convert to flavor components. The enzyme has no activity at a ‘neutral’ pH (6-7) in the cheese milk, which prevents side reactions during cheesemaking and whey processing and does not lead to any negative textural changes in cheese products. In addition, Accelerzyme® CPG reduces bitterness in the final cheese product. In sensory trials, several cheese types developed with Accelerzyme® CPG, including Cheddar, Gouda, Raclette and Tilsiter, had a more mature cheese flavor and less bitterness.

DSM’s complete range of clean solutions  

The cheese market is extremely dynamic, with consumer trends changing frequently, but elements like taste and texture cannot be compromised. With the upgrade of Accelerzyme® CPG, DSM’s core portfolio of cheese ripening enzymes – including Maxiren® XDS and Fromase® – is completely preservative-free, allowing cheesemakers to ensure their cheese and whey ingredients are clean label from start to finish.

To find out more about Accelerzyme® CPG and DSM’s portfolio of preservative-free cheese ripening solutions, visit Accelerzyme® | DSM Food & Beverage.

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Published on
06 July 2022

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