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Creating a More Complete Picture

Volume 127, No. 3, Friday, July 27,  2002

In the running of our cheese plants we tend to record a lot of data and do very little with it. In most cases we are interested in being legal, i.e. making sure we are above the minimum for FDB (Fat on a Dry Basis) and under the maximum for moisture. 
Having recorded the moisture and fat data for each batch, adding the salt content will allow us to create a more complete picture of our cheese from an analytical perspective. Two more columns on the analytical spreadsheet provide an invaluable look inside your cheese.

For our calculations: 
MNFS (moisture in the nonfat substance) is calculated by subtracting the fat and expressing the moisture as a percentage of what is left. e.g.
Example A, B and C.


39.00 x 100 
100 - 30.50 = 56.12% MNFS 

This is the highest moisture, lowest fat cheese that can legally be called Cheddar, not a daily achievable goal.


36.00 x 100 
100 - 32.00 = 52.94% MNFS 

This is a cheese that we would expect to be aged.


34.00 x 100 
100 - 33.00 = 50.74% MNFS 
This could be a cheese destined for processing or a cheese coming in from the likes of New Zealand.

All the above cheese calculate out to have a 50.00% FDB.
However, we are often faced with the cost of production being impacted by the value of the components in the cheese. The cheese above would have been standardized by separation or other method to achieve a 50.00% FDB.  If it is advantageous to leave additional fat in the cheese (i.e. this permits the sale of fat at cheese prices), we have an additional impact on cheese stability. Assume the manufacturer decides to produce a cheese that has an FDB of 54.00% for a given moisture content:


34.00 x 100
100 - 35.64 = 52.83% MNFS 

This cheese has an MNFS similar to a 50.00% FDB, 36.00% moisture cheese and could be assumed to age similarly.

Combining the above information with S/M data we can draw an even better picture of stability:


36.00 x 100
100 - 32.00 = 52.94% MNFS


34.00 x 100
100 - 35.64 = 52.83% MNFS
If both cheeses contained 1.60% salt the formula would look as follows: 

Example B: 1.60 x 100
36.00 = 4.40% S/M

Example D: 1.60 x 100
34.0 = 4.70% S/M
Example D is a more stable cheese when you combine the two pieces of information. Two more columns on the analytical spreadsheet would have been an excellent warning system of cheese that might not make the grade; it also identifies cheeses which have the best aging potential.

Looking back to Example A. 

EXAMPLE A: 1.60 x 100
39.0 = 4.10% S/M

This is a very unstable cheese and needs to be moved through the system quickly. It has no serious aging potential; flavor and body defects would be anticipated.
Expanding on Example D, such a cheese is more likely to have a salt level as high as 1.8% to enhance its long hold stability. 
If destined for a process cooker, which is a relatively short hold situation, it will enhance the level of intact protein and make it a good raw material.

EXAMPLE D: 1.80 x 100
34.0 = 5.29% S/M

Cheese of this type may last for years, and be excellent cheese. 
Many other factors come into the production of a fine piece of cheese, but all things being equal, this information will provide a better understanding of aging and aging related defects.
In Cheddar cheese, S/M in the 4.00% - 5.00% range will cover most situations. MNFS for Cheddar cheese in the range 52.00% - 56.00% will cover most situations. 
Typical MNFS and S/M for various cheeses:
                                          MNFS%                     S/M %
Feta*                                    74.90                           3.72 
Brie*                                     67.40                           3.93 
Panela*                                 62.41                          3.66 
Cheddar Short Hold              56.00                          4.10
Cheddar for aging                  53.00                         4.85
Parmesan*                             39.70                         7.96 
* from Kosikowski

Feta has a low pH (4.7), very high MNFS and relatively low S/M; shelf life would be many months. pH has a stabilizing effect here.
Brie is regarded as a short hold cheese, particularly the Brie de Meaux referenced in Kosikowski. The pH starts off low and rises quickly; it has a high MNFS and low S/M.
The Panela is a high pH (6.00 or higher) with shelf life of one or two weeks in its traditional marketplace. It has high MNFS, and relatively low S/M, a short hold cheese. pH has destabilizing effect here.
Parmesan early in its life has a low pH, MNFS is very low and the S/M are very high, all three factors are stabilizing, this is the proverbial Brick …. House of cheese.
The Cheddars provide reference points.

Neville McNaughton, president of Cheez Sorce, St. Louis, MO, has many years of experience manufacturing dairy products in both New Zealand and US. He has been a judge at several cheese competitions. Neville will be writing a regular column in Cheese Reporter and will take any questions regarding cheese manufacture. You can reach him at CheezSorce@sbcglobal.netjumhoefer@wischeesemakersassn. org


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