• Response surface methodology modeling of protein concentration, coagulum cut size, and set temperature on curd moisture loss kinetics during curd stirring

      Panthi, Ram R.; Kelly, Alan L.; McMahon, Donald; Dai, Xin; Vollmer, Almut H.; Sheehan, Diarmuid (JJ); Dairy Levy Trust Fund; Utah State University; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2019-03-28)
      The effects of the independent variables protein concentration (4–6%), coagulum cut size (6–18 mm3), and coagulation temperature (28–36°C) on curd moisture loss during in-vat stirring were investigated using response surface methodology. Milk (14 kg) in a cheese vat was rennet coagulated, cut, and stirred as per semihard cheesemaking conditions. During stirring, the moisture content of curd samples was determined every 10 min between 5 and 115 min after cutting. The moisture loss kinetics of curds cut to 6 mm3 followed a logarithmic trend, but the moisture loss of curds from larger cut sizes, 12 or 18 mm3, showed a linear trend. Response surface modeling showed that curd moisture level was positively correlated with cut size and negatively correlated with milk protein level. However, coagulation temperature had a significant negative effect on curd moisture up to 45 min of stirring but not after 55 min (i.e., after cooking). It was shown that curds set at the lower temperature had a slower syneresis rate during the initial stirring compared with curds set at a higher temperature, which could be accelerated by reducing the cut size. This study shows that keeping a fixed cut size at increasing protein concentration decreased the level of curd moisture at a given time during stirring. Therefore, to obtain a uniform curd moisture content at a given stirring time at increasing protein levels, an increased coagulum cut size is required. It was also clear that breakage of the larger curd particles during initial stirring can also significantly influence the curd moisture loss kinetics. Both transmission and scanning electron micrographs of cooked curds (i.e., after 45 min of stirring) showed that the casein micelles were fused at a higher degree in curds coagulated at 36°C compared with 28°C, which confirmed that coagulation temperature causes a marked change in curd microstructure during the earlier stages of stirring. The present study showed the dynamics of curd moisture content during stirring when using protein-concentrated milk at various set temperatures and cut sizes. This provides the basis for achieving a desired curd moisture loss during cheese manufacture using protein-concentrated milk as a means of reducing the effect of seasonal variation in milk for cheesemaking.