Dairy Flavors

Dairy products are very ancient foods and are one of the most important classes of foods in our diet. The basic dairy product, milk, is not a very stable food. Today's practice allows us to heat process it to keep it stable from microbiological attack for various periods of time depending on the nature of the processing conditions to which the milk is subjected. The commercial practice of heat processing (pasteurization) has only been in place for the last 60 or so years. In ancient times milk was allowed to spoil in a controlled way so that it would remain eatable.

The development of ghee (butter) from buffalo milk, an early practice of controlling the spoilage of milk, has been traced to India of perhaps about 4,000 years ago. The method of butter making was to appear in Europe at a much later date. The first commercial creamery in the United States was built by Alanson Slaughter in 1881 in Orange County, New York.

Cheese from milk also has a prehistoric origin. Cheese was an excellent way to preserve the important nutrients of milk. Because of the many ways of stabilizing milk into cheese, many forms of cheese with a variety of flavor and taste profiles have been developed. Recently, a USDA bulletin indicated over 800 varieties and the (United States Food and Drug Administration) U.S. FDA has established standards of identity for 30 different type of cheeses. Typically, cheeses are named after the immediate region where they were originally produced.

At first the manufacture of dairy products, including milk, milk products, butter, and cheese, was based on historical practice and the art of the producers. It took the great scientific revelation of Louis Pasteur working in France between 1857 and 1876 to relate the manufacturing process to the new world of the microorganism and fermentation. The use of pure culture techniques began around 1870, and the dairy and cheese industry was transformed from an industry of inconsistent product quality and quantity. The various organisms responsible for the development of the flavor, taste, and texture of dairy and cheese products were discovered and used in day-to-day operation of the manufacturing plants. More recent scientific advances in the area of organic, analytic, and biochemistry have allowed for the identification of those chemical components that develop during the manufacturing steps and contribute to the flavor profiles that we associate with these products.

Besides the well-known nutritional properties of these products, they are very popular owing to their unique flavor, taste, and textual attributes.

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