- Cheddar Cheese samples (good cheese, weak cheese, cheese made with pasteurized milk, cheese made with heat-shocked milk, cheese from production plant A, cheese from production plant B, cheese made with adjunct culture, and cheese made without adjunct culture), were evaluated during the ripening stage. Proteolysis was studied by a fractionation scheme, resulting in an insoluble fraction analyzed by urea polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (Urea-PAGE), and a soluble fraction which was further investigated through water soluble nitrogen (WSN), trichloroacetic acid soluble nitrogen (TCA-SN) and phosphotungstic acid soluble nitrogen (PTA-SN) analyzed by total Kjeldahl nitrogen content (TKN). Reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) was used to study the peptide profile of the water soluble fraction. Lipolyisis was studied by levels of individual free fatty acids determined through gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID) after isolation employing solid phase extraction (SPE). Volatile sulfur compounds were studied using head space solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) coupled with gas chromatography-pulsed flame photometric detection (PFPD).
It was found that Urea-PAGE is capable to differentiate samples according their age, but cannot discriminate samples regarding the treatment assessed, quality or origin of the samples. However, measurements of total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) of the WSN, TCA-SN, and PTA-SN fractions, and the principal component analysis of the RP-HPLC peptide profile of the WSN fraction, revealed differences in the rate and pattern of proteolysis for each one of the manufacturing cases. Good cheese, cheese produce in plant TCCA, cheese made in plant CRP with adjunct culture isolated from plant TCCA cheese, and cheese made with heat-shocked milk developed higher level of total nitrogen for the WSN, TCA-SN and PTA-SN fractions, indicating that primary and secondary proteolysis were faster for these samples. This is supported by a PCA model with three principal components that account for the 80-83% of the variability of the data from the RP-HPLC peptide profile analysis, which discriminates the samples according to age and manufacturing practice. In addition, FFA profiles demonstrated higher levels of low and medium chain free fatty acids for good cheese, cheese produce in plant TCCA, cheese made in plant CRP with adjunct culture, and cheese made with heat-shocked milk samples, which suggest faster lipolysis during ripening. The Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSC) analysis showed higher levels of DMS and MeSH and lower levels of H2S, suggesting faster catabolism of sulfur containing amino acids in good cheese, cheese produce in plant TCCA, cheese made in plant CRP with adjunct culture, and cheese made with heat-shocked milk.