When it comes to dairy products, the way initial forms of dairy are processed into some of the most common food types out there today is very important to understand. Dairy processing is a vital activity within our food chain, and there are several elements that go into it — one of these, in a very broad sense, is achieving the proper mixture of flavor and texture for any desired dairy product.
At Idaho Milk Products, we’re proud to offer a huge range of milk protein concentrates/isolates and related products, such as milk permeate powder and many others. We’re happy to detail any of the processes we use in manufacturing, plus to offer our customers basic recommendations on how to balance flavor and texture for any of the food products they’re looking to produce using our materials. Using yogurt as an example, here’s a primer on this important balance between these two vital characteristics.
Know the Full Impact of Processing Changes
In just a moment, we’ll be digging into how various changes to processing formats for yogurt will impact the way its flavor and texture end up for the final product. Before we get into specifics, however, we wanted to introduce a broad theme that’s a constant here, and which must be taken into account: Any significant change you make to dairy processing is going to have an impact on the entire process, including certain unintended consequences you may not have thought of.
For instance, let’s say you’ve decided to lower your incubation temperature for production of a given yogurt, with the goal of producing a product with a better texture. This may indeed happen, but a lower temperature will also slow down production — what if your production is slowed to such a degree that you can no longer meet your goal of producing a certain number of products within the time window allotted for this? Or alternatively, what if other processes like fermentation or straining are delayed due to such a change in temperature, and suddenly you find yourself unable to filter your yogurt at all because it’s reached its optimal coagulation point?
These kinds of trickle-down effects absolutely must be considered when you make a processing change for flavor or texture, and must be addressed in some fashion. You have to think beyond just the singular area you’re focused on, and make sure you plan ahead for any possible changes that may arise as a result of your shift.
In this next section, we’ll cover some of the processing changes that may impact flavor, texture or both.
Firstly, let’s go over how yogurt is produced. This is a process that involves fermentation of milk for 3-6 hours at between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. During the incubation period, two friendly culture bacteria work together, converting lactose to lactic acid to create both the taste and texture of yogurt through acidification — the tartness is the result of this acidification.
What are some of the ways you may consider changing yogurt processing to impact flavor or texture? Here are a couple:
- Lower incubation temperature: A lower incubation temperature for yogurt will favor the growth of one of those friendly culture bacteria we just mentioned, making the texture a bit more stable in most cases. The flavor will also be less tart, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
- Higher incubation temperature: A higher incubation temperature for yogurt will favor two different friendly culture bacteria, making the taste more tart and prominent — this is generally a good thing in terms of flavor. However, some texture issues may arise with an increased incubation heat if too high; this can include small whey bubbles forming in the yogurt, which can make it seem more like a cultured buttermilk instead of yogurt.
- Reduce fermentation time: If you reduce the amount of time your yogurt ferments, you’ll be cutting down on lactic acid production and throwing off the balance between those two friendly culture bacteria; this will have an impact on both flavor and texture. While the yogurt may taste sweeter as a result, it will be much runnier than normal and could even have an increased risk of separation between curds and whey.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our milk protein manufacturer services, speak to the staff at Idaho Milk Products today.