Exploring the Influence of Cream Processing Parameters on Butter Quality

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O'Loughlin, Aidan
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This thesis was set out to explore the potential to improve the quality of winter cream, for the purposes of producing higher quality butter during the winter period. Understanding how cream processing parameters can be altered to produce a more desirable butter during the winter period was the key concept. This is an important topic for butter manufacturers as it can help add value to winter cream.

The thesis topic was evaluated through peer reviewed data. The characterising factors investigated were fatty acid composition, FFA, butter hardness and the milk fat crystalline structure within butter and cream. These areas were picked as they are the strongest indicators of butter quality.

The key finding was that there is a relationship between the alteration of cream processing parameters and the final results of the key characteristics of butter. Firstly, for the fatty acid composition, a shorter cream ripening time resulted in higher levels of UFAs such as oleic acid which are associated with the development of a softer butter. For FFA in milk, the lowest values were found from milk cooled at 4℃ and pumped without incubation after cooling. For butter hardness the combination of lower ripening temperatures, high agitation, longer ripening times and the addition of LMP milk fat fractions was seen to have the biggest impact of reducing butter hardness. Lastly, in the milk fat crystallisation section, desirable β' milk fat crystals were found to develop during the first hour of cream ripening while a combination of maturing cream at 5℃ along with a high agitation rate was seen to produce the highest amount of β' milk fat crystals.

In conclusion, the quality of winter cream can be improved through the alteration of cream processing parameters to produce a more desirable final butter. Future work that’s recommended to be undertaken includes the usage of a spinning cone column which could help remove volatile compounds from cream.

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