Postprint version. Published in Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 98, Issue 12, December 1, 2015, pages 8454-8463.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2015-9856.
Milk protein concentrate powders (MPC) with improved rehydration properties are often manufactured using processing steps, such as acidification and high-pressure processing, and with addition of other ingredients, such as sodium chloride, during their production. These steps are known to increase the amount of serum caseins or modify the mineral equilibrium, hence improving solubility of the retentates. The processing functionality of the micelles may be affected. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of partial acidification by adding glucono-δ-lactone (GDL) to skim milk during membrane filtration on the structural changes of the casein micelles by observing their chymosin-induced coagulation behavior, as such coagulation is affected by both the supramolecular structure of the caseins and calcium equilibrium. Milk protein concentrates were prepared by preacidification with GDL to pH 6 using ultrafiltration (UF) and diafiltration (DF) followed by spray-drying. Reconstituted UF and DF samples (3.2% protein) treated with GDL showed significantly increased amounts of soluble calcium and nonsedimentable caseins compared with their respective controls, as measured by ion chromatography and sodium dodecyl sulfate-PAGE electrophoresis, respectively. The primary phase of chymosin-induced gelation was not significantly different between treatments as measured by the amount of caseino-macropeptide released. The rheological properties of the reconstituted MPC powders were determined immediately after addition of chymosin, both before and after dialysis against skim milk, to ensure similar serum composition for all samples. Reconstituted samples before dialysis showed no gelation (defined as tan δ = 1), and after re-equilibration only control UF and DF samples showed gelation. The gelation properties of reconstituted MPC powders were negatively affected by the presence of soluble casein, and positively affected by the amount of both soluble and insoluble calcium present after reconstitution. This work, testing the chymosin-induced gelation behavior of various reconstituted MPC samples, clearly demonstrated that a decrease in pH to 6.0 during membrane filtration affects the integrity of the casein micelles supramolecular structure with important consequences to their processing functionality.