Oxidation-reduction potential and its influence on Cheddar cheese quality

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Caldeo, Veronica
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University College Cork
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Oxidation-reduction (redox) potential is a fundamental physicochemical parameter that affects the growth of microorganisms in dairy products and contributes to a balanced flavour development in cheese. Even though redox potential has an important impact on the quality of dairy products, it is not usually monitored in dairy industry. The aims of this thesis were to develop practical methods for measuring redox potential in cheese, to provide detailed information on changes in redox potential during the cheesemaking and cheese ripening and how this parameter is influenced by starter systems and to understand the relationship between redox potential and cheese quality. Methods were developed for monitoring redox potential during cheesemaking and early in ripening. Changes in redox potential during laboratory scale manufacture of Cheddar, Gouda, Emmental, and Camembert cheeses were determined. Distinctive kinetics of reduction in redox potential during cheesemakings were observed, and depended on the cheese technology and starter culture utilised. Redox potential was also measured early in ripening by embedding electrodes into Cheddar cheese at moulding together with the salted curd pieces. Using this approach it was possible to monitor redox potential during the pressing stage. The redox potential of Emmental cheese was also monitored during ripening. Moreover, since bacterial growth drives the reduction in redox potential during cheese manufacture and ripening, the ability of Lactococcus lactis strains to affect redox potential was studied. Redox potential of a Cheddar cheese extract was altered by bacterial growth and there were strain-specific differences in the nature of the redox potential/time curves obtained. Besides, strategies to control redox potential during cheesemaking and ripening were developed. Oxidizing or reducing agents were added to the salted curd before pressing and results confirmed that a negative redox potential is essential for the development of sulfur compounds in Cheddar cheese. Overall, the studies described in this thesis gave an evidence of the importance of the redox potential on the quality of dairy products. Redox potential could become an additional parameter used to select microorganisms candidate as starters in fermented dairy products. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that the redox potential influences the development of flavour component. Thus, measuring continuously changes in redox potential of a product and controlling, and adjusting if necessary, the redox potential values during manufacture and ripening could be important in the future of the dairy industry.
Oxidation-reduction potential , Cheese , Lactic acid bacteria , Volatile flavour compounds
Caldeo, V. 2015. Oxidation-reduction potential and its influence on Cheddar cheese quality. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.