Rapid cooling of melted cheese
Melted cheese speciality is a product obtained by melting cheese, mainly pressed cheese, possibly with the addition of other dairy products such as milk powder, cream, butter, casein, whey, milk protein concentrate, flavour concentrate or vegetable proteins and fats.
Melting is obtained by adding a technological melting agent such as a phosphate, polyphosphate or sodium citrate at a concentration of up to 3% by weight. It can also be obtained by adding other technological additives (e.g. guar gum, carob gum, xanthan gum) incorporated alone or in combination with the above-mentioned melting salts.
Cheese has always been an important part of a healthy diet, and is the result of the ancient processing of milk. A valuable source of protein, cheese was one of the first ways of preserving milk, a rapidly perishable raw material. However, the coagulation of the milk and the resulting draining of the curd offer only relative stability, which varies according to its category. So, while proteolysis is a fundamental phenomenon during the ripening process, this enzymatic activity continues even at low temperatures, and beyond a certain stage leads to a deterioration in the cheese. Several processes have been developed to extend the life of cheese.
Its melted appearance is a more recent preparation, which has enabled the milk proteins to be stabilised to a high degree, while preserving the product’s cheesy aspect. Initially intended for direct consumption, it is still today a category adapted to consumer habits. Spreadable, with a mild, creamy flavour, it is an energy-giving food, rich in proteins and minerals, easily digestible, microbiologically protective and, what’s more, can be kept at room temperature, while offering great convenience for consumption.
Nevertheless, its direct consumption remains marginal in a country with such a strong cheese-making tradition as France. This is one of the reasons why more than half of France’s cheese production is exported, and melted cheese alone accounts for 50% of the country’s cheese exports. For several years now, the market niche with strong growth potential has been indirect consumption. These days, cheese is incorporated into culinary preparations such as gratins, lasagne, pizzas and burgers. This is a prime area for the use of melting techniques to modify the behaviour of milk proteins when heated.
If traditional cheese is not always suitable for remelting, it’s because it wasn’t designed for this use. However, with new melting techniques, consumers can better manage this aspect of remelting ability and topping power, while lowering the cost price. This has led to the emergence of analogues which, because of the ingredients they incorporate, cannot be called cheese but make greater use of melting techniques.
To prepare your fondue for preserving, you need to melt the cheese at 110°C for 3 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 90°C in order to continuously expand the mass obtained in an expander, under a nitrogen pressure of 3.105Pa, with a rotor speed of 400 rpm.
The result is an expanded product with a relative density of 0.75. The expanded product then needs to be transferred to a tank under gentle agitation (5 rpm) for 3 minutes to obtain a partial result. All that remains is to pack the hot mixture into one or more moulds.
The conditioned product is then rapidly cooled to below 20°C to set the shape. The period and temperature of the cooling room are evaluated taking into account the format (a 1.5kg block can be placed under 6°C for 8 hours, whereas a 200g piece can easily reach 20°C in around 2 hours).
Our rapid cooling cells are specially designed and installed to reach these temperatures in the desired timeframe.