Making cheese & co. taste better

The hunt for flavor-giving fragments.

The taste of fermented foods such as cheese or yoghurt is very popular with consumers worldwide
The taste of fermented foods such as cheese or yoghurt is very popular with consumers worldwide. (Photo: fcatfotodigital/iStock)

The taste of fermented foods, for example, cheddar, yogurt, brew, yeast dough, or soy sauce is exceptionally prevalent with customers around the world. Notwithstanding volatile aroma compounds, non-unpredictable substances likewise essentially add to their characteristic taste profile. Most importantly, these incorporate pieces of long protein atoms that are created, for instance, amid microbial or enzymatic transformation (aging) of a drain or grain protein.

Currently, it is still unknown which of the more than one thousand different protein fragments in fermented milk products are responsible for the flavor. One reason being that previously used analytical methods are very labor-intensive and time-consuming.

Now, scientists have recently developed a new methodical approach that considers the quicker identification of flavor-giving protein pieces in foods, for example, cheddar or yogurt, subsequently enhancing creation processes. This discovery was made by scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in collaboration with the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology, and the University of Hohenheim.

Andreas Dunkel from the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology said, “What makes the approach so innovative is that researchers combined existing methods of proteome research with methods of sensory research to efficiently and quickly identify the decisive flavor-giving protein fragments from the totality of all fragments. “We coined the term ‘sensoproteomics’ for this type of procedure.”

Scientists started their work with a broad survey of the literature. They inferred that an aggregate of approx. 1,600 diverse protein fragments contained in dairy items could hypothetically be in charge of the severity.

Resulting fluid chromatography-coupled mass spectrometer examinations helped by in-silico strategies diminished the number of potential protein fragments to 340. At last, near spectrometric, sensory and quantitative investigations decreased the number of parts in charge of the intense cheddar flavor to 17.

Prof. Hofmann, who is also the Director of the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at TUM, is convinced that “The sensoproteomics approach we have developed will in the future contribute to the rapid and efficient identification of flavor-giving protein fragments in a wide range of foods using high-throughput methods — a significant help in optimizing the taste of products.”

Scientists have presented their study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.