U.S. Dairy Products > Cheese

Functional Properties

Cheese provides many functional and physical properties as a food ingredient, but is primarily added to food for flavor. Depending on the application, cheese may also be added to foods to increase viscosity, add mouth-feel, improve color or bind other added ingredients.

Advanced technologies have enabled cheese manufacturers to tailor make cheese with specific functional properties such as controlled browning, restricted melt and sharper flavor profiles.  

Flavor/Aroma A cheese's flavor and aroma is a direct results of its protein and fat content, and the flavor spectrum of cheese products is broad.
Flavor Carrier The milkfat in cheese is an excellent background flavor and it also carries other flavors.
Viscosity Viscosity affects the way a liquid flows. In cheese, viscosity is primarily a function of milkfat's liquid phase and can be modified based on heat application.
Texture/Mouthfeel The familiar smoothness of melted cheeses can add interest and mouthfeel to many dishes.
Stretch The stretch characteristics of natural cheeses depend on pH, the proportion of colloidal calcium phosphate that has been dissociated from the casein micelle and the degree of intact casein. The stretch "quality" of a cheese is important in certain applications to satisfy consumer demand.
Browning Browning occurs during baking when the color of some cheeses increases due to the Maillard-type reaction between reducing sugars (e.g. lactose) and the proteins (especially amino acids).
Freezing Ability Some cheeses can be frozen to preserve flavor and/or physical properties such as melt and stretch.