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The secret of cheese’s aroma? Nutrition and upbringing

Are the upbringing method and the nutrition, as well as the story of every single animal fundamental to define the aroma of the cheese? According to researchers of the Edmund Mach Foundation, together with their colleagues from the University of Padova, yes, it is possible.

The research group “Sensorial Quality” from San Michele all’Adige – the town where the Foundation is based – has analyzed 150 small cheese wheels made in special conditions with milk from 150 different animals: every wheel was associated with a single cow and information regarding the cow, such as age, quantity of milk produced, number of offsprings. The experiment concerned 150 brown cows raised in 30 firms in the Trento district. Through the gascromatography technic more than 50 samples were identified, all of them belong to different chemical classes that contribute to the sensorial impact of the cheese, especially smell and taste. The survey confirmed the upbringing systems’ effects and the nutrition on the final quality of the product.

The survey has also shown  that also the characteristics of the animals have an influence on milk’s quality; it is in fact possible to find a connection between the  flavour of the milk and some features of the animals, such as the lactation phases. The 150 samples analyzed in the laboratory of the Centre for Research and Innovation were obtained thourgh a wider experiment, CowPlus, funded by the district of Trento. The experiment has shown that it is possible to increase the value of the milk by focusing on the differentiation of cheeses, moving a first step towards the traceability of product, based on qualitative features such as the flavour. Now the researchers are working on another analysis, using the technic of massive spectrometry (PTR-MS), faster than the gascromatography, through which it could be possible to analyse the genetical bases of the sensorial quality of cheeses.

[in the picture, a couple of brown cows (photo from www.fmach.it)]