Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI) has developed a milk protein that allows cheese makers to speed-up maturation time - offering a potentially significant reduction in storage costs.
Once introduced, Nutrilac FastRipe accelerates the mechanism in cheese that causes it to ripen, said AFI - reducing the maturation process by between one and six week depending on cheese variety.
Ripening is a key stage in the production of continental and Cheddar-type cheeses. It can take as little as three weeks, but in some cases more than a year – meaning it represents a significant overhead in terms of storage.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Claus Andersen, cheese category manager at AFI, said that FastRipe can also improve something vital to every business - cash flow.
“Cash flow is on the agenda for all businesses,” said Andersen.
“Cash is tied up in the storage of cheese. So it is of great interest to cheese makers to release this cash weeks in advance," he said.
Reduce ripening time
The ingredient, which is based on AFI's CH-4560 natural whey protein, is suitable for use in a wide range of natural cheeses, including Gouda, Edam, Machego, Cheddar and Port Salut.
“The longer they are generally ripened, the greater the potential is to reduce ripening time,” said Andersen. “We have seen particularly good results from cheddar type cheeses.”
Using Gouda as an example, AFI estimates that a firm manufacturing 30,000 tonnes of the Dutch cheese per year, adding 0.25% FastRipe to its recipe, could reduce storage time by three weeks – saving €12.10 ($16.50) per tonne of chesse, or €363,000 ($500,000) annually.
Savings could, however, be higher than this, Andersen said.
“This number that we have put in our material is actually quite conservative,” he said. “But we would rather be low than high.”
“We definitely stand by these numbers," he added.
Same cheese, just faster
FastRipe works by softening the heavy protein matrix in the cheese at an earlier stage, bringing the cheese to the desired point of proper consistency faster.
It then breaks down casein molecules at a faster rate than usual to release the compounds responsible for developing flavour.
It does this without impacting the quality or shelf life of the finished product, Andersen added.
“It will be the same cheese,” he said, “just made faster.”