Effect of reverse osmosis and ultra-high-pressure homogenization on sweet buttermilk


Buttermilk (BM), the by-product of butter making, is similar to skim milk (SM) composition. However, it is currently undervalued in dairy processing because it is responsible for texture defects (e.g., crumbliness, decreased firmness) in cheese and yogurt. One possible way of improving the incorporation of BM into dairy products is by the use of technological pretreatments such as membrane filtration and homogenization. 

A Canadian study aimed at characterizing the effect of preconcentration by reverse osmosis (RO) and single-pass ultra-high-pressure homogenization (UHPH) on the composition and microstructure of sweet BM to modify its techno-functional properties (e.g., protein gel formation, syneresis, firmness). The BM and RO BM were treated at 0, 15, 150, and 300 MPa. Pressure-treated and control BM and RO BM were ultracentrifuged to fractionate them into the following 3 fractions: a supernatant soluble fraction (top layer), a colloidal fraction consisting of a cloudy layer (middle layer), and a high-density pellet (bottom layer). Compositional changes in the soluble fraction [lipid, phospholipid (PL), protein, and salt], as well as its protein profile by PAGE analysis, were determined. Modifications in particle size distribution upon UHPH were monitored by laser diffraction in the presence and absence of sodium citrate to dissociate the casein (CN) micelles. Microstructural changes in pressure-treated and non-pressure-treated BM and RO BM particles were monitored by confocal laser scanning microscopy. Particle size analysis showed that UHPH treatment significantly decreased the size of the milk fat globule membrane fragments in BM and RO BM. Also, pressure treatment at 300 MPa led to a significant increase in the recovery of total lipids, CN, calcium, and phosphate in the BM soluble fraction (top layer) following ultracentrifugation. However, PL were primarily concentrated in the pellet cloud (middle layer), located above the pellet in BM concentrated by RO. In contrast, PL were evenly distributed between soluble and colloidal phases of BM. 

This study published in Journal of Dairy Science the provides insight into the modifications of sweet BM constituents induced by RO and UHPH from a compositional and structural perspective. 


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