Cheese Ripening

The main pathways of cheese ripening in the Scandinavian cheese varieties are similar to those in other semihard cheese varieties (18). Lactose, citrate, milk fat, and casein are hy-drolyzed during ripening while texture is developed, eyes are formed, and flavor compounds are produced. Lactose is rapidly converted into lactic acid and should not be present in the cheese after a couple of days. When pH has reached its minimum after one or two days, it will increase slowly during ripening mainly due to proteolysis and faster in cheese ripened with a smear surface microflora producing ammonia (Fig. 3).

Citrate is converted to CO2, diacetyl, acetoin, and butanediol by the DL starter bacteria and should be exhausted after a week or two. The eye formation in semihard cheese is dependent on these activities, and in those varieties that contain propionic acid bacteria, even larger eyes are produced.

With the exception of cheese varieties ripened with a surface microflora, lipolysis is limitd in semihard cheese varieties. However, volatile compounds that may contribute to cheese flavor are produced in significant amounts from fat hydrolysis (fatty acids, h-keto-acids, methylketones, lactones). Cheese texture and flavor depend on proteolysis, which is described in more detail below.

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