Int J Biol Macromol 2002 Dec;31(1-3):37-44
Department of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7905, USA.
Whey protein gels prepared under acidic conditions (pH<4.6) remain largely unutilized because of their weak and brittle nature in contrast to the favorable elastic gels produced at neutral or basic conditions. However, such usage is important, as low pH food products are desirable due to their shelf stability and less stringent sterilization processes. In this study, we use a two-step process involving enzyme followed by heat treatment to produce whey protein gels at low pH (4.0). Dynamic rheological measurements reveal that the gel elastic modulus and yield stress increase substantially when heat treatment is supplemented with enzyme treatment. Both the elastic modulus and yield stress increase with increasing enzyme concentration or treatment time. In contrast, the dynamic yield strain decreases with enzyme concentration but increases with time of enzyme treatment. These results are explained in terms of the enzyme treatment time affecting the diffusion of the enzyme within the gel. This in turn leads to two types of gel microstructure at short and long enzyme treatment times, with the extent of enzyme diffusion modulating the structure at intermediate times.