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Milk-Clotting Properties and Primary Proteolysis of a Lyophilised Extract from Artichoke Flowers (Cynara scolymus L.)

Valentina Crosetti1,2orcid tiny, Agustín Sola1orcid tiny, Gabriela Grigioni3orcid tiny and María José Torres1,2*orcid tiny

1Department of Basic and Experimental Sciences, National University of the Northwest of the Province of Buenos Aires (UNNOBA), Newbery 355, 6000 Junín, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2Research and Transfer Center of the Northwest of the Province of Buenos Aires (CITNOBA) – UNNOBA-UNSadACONICET, Monteagudo 2772, 2700 Pergamino, Buenos Aires, Argentina

3Institute of Food Technology – Institute of Science and Technology of Sustainable Food Systems, INTA CONICET, CC 25, 1712 Castelar, Buenos Aires, Argent

Article history:

Received: 6 March 2023

Accepted: 1 October 2023

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Cynara scolymus; lyophilised vegetable coagulant; clotting activity; casein proteolysis; plant rennet

E WEB Goal 09 The content of this publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States.


Research background. A few studies have investigated Cynara scolymus enzymes as a substitute for calf rennet in cheese making. They used aqueous extracts prepared by maceration of plant material and stored by freezing. However, it was indicated that lyophilisation is a better alternative to preserve the coagulant properties of plant extracts over a longer period of time, as it is a more controllable, stable and hygienic alternative with a better shelf life that is easier to transport, store and standardise.

Experimental approach. We obtained a lyophilised extract of mature artichoke flowers, named CS, which was characterised for its milk-clotting properties at different pH and temperatures. In addition, the potential yield, whey composition and the primary hydrolysis profile of caseins by urea-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) of mini curds prepared with different doses of coagulant were determined.

Results and conclusions. The lyophilised extract was able to hydrolyse casein and showed stable proteolytic activity at pH=6.4 and 37 °C for 50 min, which decreased when the process temperature was increased to 41 and 45 °C and was lost at 70 °C. On the other hand, milk-clotting activity increased significantly (p<0.001) when the temperature increased from 37 to 45 °C and the pH of the milk decreased from 6.8 to 5.8. Potential yield between 10 and 17 % was obtained for the mini curds prepared with the lyophilised artichoke extract, and the casein degradation pattern obtained by urea-PAGE was similar to that of the commercial coagulant.

Novelty and scientific contribution. On a laboratory scale, our work has shown that the lyophilised artichoke extract has sufficient proteolytic and coagulant activity to be used as a milk coagulant, i.e. plant rennet, in cheese making as an alternative to animal rennet. As this extract is lyophilised, it has the advantage of being a better alternative in terms of preservation and shelf-life. It offers an innovative way to diversify cheese products and appeal to consumers with different dietary preferences and needs.

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