Substituting KCl for NaCl in fresh Queso Fresco
Reducing the sodium level in cheese is challenging when a signature salty flavor is expected, such as in high-moisture Queso Fresco (QF). Fresh starter-free QF was fine milled and dry salted at different levels of NaCl and KCl to obtain total salt levels of 1.5 to 2.0%. The treatments contained 1.5/0, 2.0/0, 1.0/0.5, 1.0/0.75, 1.0/1.0, and 1.5/0.5% NaCl/KCl. Texture profile analysis and small amplitude oscillatory shear analysis were conducted on day 7 and salt intensity levels were evaluated by trained sensory panelists at day 6. Texture profile analysis indicated that the QFs were similar in hardness (16.7 ± 1.8 N) with the 1.0/0.5 QF being the softest and similar in cohesiveness (0.17 ± 0.01) with the 1.5/0/5 QF being the least cohesive. Chewiness was highest in the 1.5/0 QF and lowest for the 1.5/0.5 QF (224 and 144 J, respectively). Increasing the total salt in the cheese increased the elastic and viscous moduli although the 1.5/0 QF was higher than the 1.0/0.5 QF and the 1.5/0.5 had the highest values. This suggested that the use of KCl may function differently in the matrix of QF, a weak body cheese that is expected to crumble easily. Five of the six QF had saltiness intensity scores 1.0 to 1.5; the 2.0/0 QF had a score of 2. Panelists selected 2 as the target saltiness for QF. The metallic off-flavor commonly associated with KCl was not an issue at levels used in this study. The replacement of NaCl with KCl in the ranges tested had only slight effects on the textural properties, did influence the viscoelastic properties, and did not match the saltiness intensity of NaCl.
Keywords: Sodium, Cheese, Queso Fresco