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Bacteria in cheese curds

Industrially produced queijo coalho (cheese curds) that tastes and feels artisanal

EDUARDO CESARIndustrially produced queijo coalho (cheese curds) that tastes and feels artisanalEDUARDO CESAR

Bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus have been selected by researchers at Embrapa Tropical Agroindustry, in the city of Fortaleza, state of Ceará, to produce a new lactic acid starter culture that can be used for industrial-scale production of queijo coalho (literally “rennet cheese”, similar to cheese curds). The new starter preserves the characteristics of the artisanal cheese, including flavor and texture, increasing its commercial potential. The artisanal cheese curds consumed in northeastern Brazil are made from raw milk, which is forbidden for industrial products. “The pasteurization process that eliminates pathogenic bacteria also eliminates the bacteria in the milk’s normal microbiota, which give the final product some of the characteristic flavor and texture that consumers appreciate,” explains Laura Bruno, the researcher responsible for the research, conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), University of Campinas (Unicamp), and the Institute of Industrial Lactology in the city of Santa Fé, Argentina. It took 10 years to choose three bacterial strains, selected among 900 bacteria found in samples of queijo coalho produced from raw milk in the cities of Jaguaribe, Quixadá, Tauá, and Maranguape, in the state of Ceará. The selected material was tested and the bacteria were used in two different formulations. Both were effective for cheese production using pasteurized milk. “On the test, the resulting product obtained an acceptance score of approximately 7 points, representing the answer ‘I liked it’, on a sensory scale of one to nine,” Bruno explains.