Chr. Hansen Launches New Culture Blends for Soft Cheese

12 Jan 2009 --- Intended for production of traditional white brined cheese like feta and halloumi, the culture blends have been developed in co-operation with Greek manufacturers of traditional sheep and goat milk feta cheese.

12/01/09 Chr. Hansen has launched two new culture blends for feta cheese. Using the new DVS cultures dairies now have the opportunity to produce traditional white brined cheese with improved texture while at the same time benefiting from the advantages of direct-to-the-vat production.

Intended for production of traditional white brined cheese like feta and halloumi, the culture blends have been developed in co-operation with Greek manufacturers of traditional sheep and goat milk feta cheese.

“Our launch of the cultures is global and we expect sales in several markets but initially we focus on Greece, the Balkan countries and Turkey,” says Nanna Borne, Marketing Manager, Cheese Cultures, Chr. Hansen. “Long term, we want to promote the cultures to Middle Eastern dairies as well. Also, the Australian market has shown interest in the new cultures.”

7% of the 14m ton global cheese production falls into the feta category. Feta is a major cheese type in the Asia-Pacific-Middle East-Africa region, accounting for one third of total cheese production in this region.

“Compared to traditional bulk starter cultures, which are usually based on pure thermophilic strains, the new blends from Chr. Hansen give the cheese a better texture thanks to the mesophilic strains,” explains Christos Tsitsos, Business Dairy Manager, Chr. Hansen Greece. “Traditional white brined cheeses are matured 1-3 weeks and during storage there is a risk of having yeast growth on the cheese. When using culture blends based on both mesophilic and thermophilic strains the risk of yeast attack is eliminated due to a better controlled acidification of the cheese under production.”

“Another key benefit for the dairies lies within the culture production technology,” Nanna Borne points out. The freeze-dried feta cultures are delivered in Chr. Hansen’s Direct Vat Set (DVS) packaging format in a package size which fits an average vat size of 1000 L, the most common vat size in the Greek feta production.

The DVS dairy cultures are highly concentrated and standardized freeze-dried cultures used for direct inoculation of the cheese milk. The cultures need no activation or other treatment prior to use and offer a number of advantages in terms of flexibility of use, consistent performance, possibility of using customized culture blends, and no investment in bulk starter equipment.

“Producers of white brined cheese get some new tools to optimize their production as they have new freeze-dried DVS starter cultures which are much easier to handle than growing a bulk starter,” says Nanna Borne. “In the Balkan countries, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus the traditional white cheese types are often seasonal as they are produced from sheep’s and goats’ milk. Therefore it can be difficult to keep the expertise to propagate a bulk starter. Adding the culture directly to the vat is far more convenient.”

Today, more than 25% of all feta cheese is made with starter culture using a direct-to-the-vat technology.

The new culture blends are named FD-DVS WBC-01\25X100U and FD-DVS WBC-02\25X100U. WBC is a short for White Brined Cheese which is the cheese category which feta belongs to.