The market offers ample opportunities for tasty 20% and 30% fat (in dry matter) goat’s cheeses. Cheese Specialist Zijerveld, in collaboration with Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, has developed the first light version with a really creamy taste. "With only traditional knowledge this innovation would not have been possible", says Zijerveld’s Philippe Coerten.
For some years Zijerveld, located in the Dutch city of Bodegraven, have had a 30% fat (i.d.m.) goat’s cheese in their product range. However, they saw an opportunity to bring an improved product to the market. “50% full-fat (i.d.m) goat’s cheese is creamy and smooth, but if you cut down the fat content to produce a light-version, the cheese gets a hard and rubbery texture”, says Philippe Coerten, the company’s Operations Manager. "We wanted to bring a distinctive product to the market, a 30% fat (i.d.m.) cheese with the characteristics of a full fat cheese.”
Fundamental and applied knowledge
The Innovation Programme, Peaks in the Delta East Netherlands (PIDON), brought Zijerveld into contact with Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, where they found the fundamental and applied scientific knowledge their project needed. Knowledge of the physical-chemical properties of ingredients and cheese, of taste and texture, and of process technology – all under one roof.
Food & Biobased Research worked with Zijerveld to adapt their recipes in line with the latest scientific insights and to create prototypes. Additional expert input covered pilot testing, sensory sessions and texture measurement. The pilot tests were conducted at the Amalthea factory, where Zijerveld goat’s cheese has been produced since 2010.
Specific starter cultures
In the project, three approaches were investigated: fat fractionation, improvement of the fracture properties of the cheese and utilizing special starter cultures.
Addition of starter cultures was the key to success. Some starter cultures produce exopolysaccharides - long-chain carbohydrates - which ensure that the cheese retains its moisture. The more moisture in the cheese, the smoother it is. "During cheese inspections the new cheese was rated substantially better for flavor, creaminess and slice ability than existing 30% fat (i.d.m.) cheeses", said Coerten.
Zijerveld’s new 30% fat (i.d.m.) cheese, sold under the brand name Arina, is available since mid-October at specialist cheese shops throughout the Netherlands and the delicatessen counters of the large supermarket chains. Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and some Eastern European countries have also shown interest.
Zijerveld feel that the collaboration has been a great success. "Not only was the process informative, but it was very easy and pleasant to work together with Food & Biobased Research," says Coerten. "The Wageningen experts had many ideas which felt contagious. We benefitted from their large network and the convenience it offered when, for example, procuring unusual ingredients for the pilot tests."
The collaboration between Zijerveld and Food & Biobased Research proves that adjusting flavor and texture provides ample opportunities for product improvement and innovation, without the need for complicated equipment to purchase. Not only was the cheese specialist able to bring an innovative product to market, but the collaboration also delivered valuable insights that they can use for further product improvement and development.
In the near future, Zijerveld aims to communicate a much stronger message, of the positive qualities of goat’s cheese, to the consumer. "There are still people who think that goat’s cheese is not as nice as regular Gouda cheese", says Coerten. “However, goat’s cheese has become more accessible in its taste, and is easily digestible - a real benefit for people on certain diets. This new 30% fat (i.d.m.) variant will help us to improve the public’s perception of goat’s cheese."