A low-salt cheese in which the animal fat has been substituted by cholesterol-free vegetable fat with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is the result of the research carried out by the New Foodstuffs Area of AZTI-Tecnalia. The innovative product has a balanced, healthy nutritional profile and is highly suited to the elderly population and individuals with hypertension. Apart from its food properties, the cheese has been sampled by different types of consumers who have rated its taste, aroma and texture highly.
The challenge facing AZTI-Tecnalia researchers was to develop a new method of producing cheese that would allow the bioactive nutrients to be increased and the undesirable compounds to be reduced, like saturated fat and salt. To achieve as healthy a product as possible from the nutritional point of view, the butterfat -the fatty portion of milk- has been substituted by a vegetable fat rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and which is cholesterol free.
The reduction in sodium has been achieved by replacing sodium chloride (common salt) by potassium chloride. To give the final product the salty flavour characteristic of cheese, instead of the traditional salting that is carried out during cheese production, the AZTI-Tecnalia technicians have developed a salting process that is done once the cheese has dried. This novel procedure allows the characteristic salty taste to be incorporated while at the same time enabling the amount of salt added to the cheese to be controlled more accurately.
The new cheese has undergone different studies with varied groups of consumers and highly satisfactory results have emerged in terms of taste, aroma and texture. The people participating in the sampling and sensory tests found the product highly recommendable for consumption and rated its healthy properties positively.
The research has the collaboration of the Basque companies Quesos Ibar and Gomiztegi, and was conducted within the SAIOTEK Programme funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Trade and Tourism of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region).
The transfer of new technologies to companies in the foodstuff sector is one of the aims of AZTI-Tecnalia's Foodstuffs Research Unit. So the Foundation is planning to establish contacts with companies in the dairy sector that are interested in producing and marketing the new cheese. It is a naturally healthier product, which stands out on the market and has a great potential among consumers with specific nutritional needs.