Chr. Hansen has launched a new range of cultures to capture the market for a popular Eastern European cheese, encouraging producers to switch to the Direct Vat Set (DVS) system rather than the traditional bulk starter method.
The ingredients firm said its culture blends were developed to help improve the manufacturing of Twarog, a soft cheese that is eaten as it is or used as a filling in confectionery or cakes.
The three new cultures, XTT-601, XTT-602 and XTT-603, were designed to be used together in a rotation system, which is said to help reduce the risk of phage that can kill bacteria and potentially slow down the production process.
With bulk starter it is less easy to rotate cultures, so there is said to be greater risk of phage.
Morten Boesen, marketing manager, Chr. Hansen, told FoodNavigator.com that the cultures were specifically for markets such as Russia and the ex-Soviet Union countries.
He said: “As a basic, traditional food product in East European households, Twarog makes up five percent of the world’s cheese production.
“Forty per cent of the market uses traditional bulk starter cultures for the production of Twarog, so I am sure that we will see promising growth opportunities for our new DVS cultures for this segment.
“There are still a lot of traditional, small producers in Eastern Europe doing it with bulk start, so there is huge potential.
“The idea is that they (the customer) get all three and work on the rotation to get the best possible robustness in the process.
“Often you have an environment with phage. They build up in the production side and at some point it can start harming the process, so it might take longer or affect the quality of the cheese.”
He added: “The recommended rotation cycle ensures a robust and consistent manufacturing process less vulnerable to phage, which in turn results in reduced risk of contamination and higher safety in production.”
Boesen said that XTT-600 culture blends can help producers achieve a good Twarog flavour profile. This is due to high diacetyl (a desirable flavour in cheese) formation, fast acidification and CO2 formation, which helps the process run more smoothly, as well as low proteolytic activity.
Proteolytic enzymes are not desirable in this sort of cheese because it can give off-flavours, according to Boesen. Also the low proteolytic activity can help with longer shelf life of the end product.
In addition the company boasts that there is less waste in production because the cultures provide a “non-crumbling” texture, whereas if there are too many small pieces of cheese, they can be lost with the whey in the production process.
DVS v bulk starter
The XTT-600 cultures are part of a wider drive to replace traditional bulk starters.
Last summer Chr Hansen told FoodNavigator-USA.com that its Fresco series of cultures had sparked the international conversion from bulk starter production of cottage cheese to DVS technology, particularly in North America.
Chr Hansen spokesman Roy Riley said at the time that DVS, a highly concentrated frozen or freeze-dried dairy culture used for the direct inoculation of milk, had become more cost effective and was more flexible.
He added: "With bulk starter you are making up a culture that lasts the whole day so you have to stick with that culture."