United States Patent 7,666,458
Merrill , et al. February 23, 2010
Methods for making soft or firm/semi-hard ripened and unripened cheese and cheeses prepared by such methods
Methods and systems for preparing soft or firm/semi-hard cheese are provided, as well as soft or firm/semi-hard cheese prepared by the methods. The methods typically involve the formation of a slurry that contains blended or molten cheese curd. A variety of ingredients can be introduced into the curd used to prepare the slurry, the slurry that is formed, or at other stages along the manufacturing process to tailor the performance and nutritional characteristics of the final cheese product. The slurry in some methods is directly processed to form a final cheese product. In other methods, the slurry undergoes various types of processing to achieve certain desired composition or performance requirements.
Dairy Solids. A dairy solid can be added to improve various characteristics of the final cheese products such as: firming the cheese, improving water binding capacity, improving the melt appearance of the cooked cheese, and/or increasing the blistering of the cooked cheese. Dairy solids that can be utilized include, but are not limited to, whey protein concentrate, casein hydrolyzate, milk fat, lactalbumin, cream, milk protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, lactose, casein, whey protein isolate, hydrolyzed whey protein, denatured whey protein, skim cheese powder, natural casein isolate and nonfat dry milk. In general, dairy solids can be incorporated into the final product from about 0.5-25 wt. %.
Then we have the "new" essential cheese ingredient - starch:
Starches. Incorporating starches into the heated slurry is also beneficial in some instances because the functionality of some starches is increased when heated, hydrated and/or subjected to high shear conditions. Once functionalized in this manner, the starch can thicken or gel to bind to proteins in the cheese (e.g., casein). In general, starch can be incorporated into the final product in the range of about 0.5-20 wt. %.
Some methods add starch such that the starch concentration in the final cheese product is at least 0.1, 1, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13 or 20 wt. %. Thus, in some instances, the starch concentration can range from about 4-20 wt.% or from about 5-16 wt. % in the final cheese product.
A number of different types of starches can be incorporated into the final cheese product. Suitable starches include vegetable starches (e.g., potato starch, pea starch, and tapioca) and grain starches (e.g., corn starch, wheat starch, and rice starch). Specific examples of suitable corn starches include dent corn starch, waxy corn starch, and high amylose corn starch. The starches can be used individually or in combination.
Hard to believe!