We determined seasonal variations in the composition and characteristics of bovine milk, as well as heat-induced changes in the physicochemical properties of the milk, in a typical seasonal-calving New Zealand herd over 2 full milking seasons. Fat, protein, and lactose contents varied consistently during the year in patterns similar to those of the lactation cycle. Seasonality also had significant effects on milk calcium, ionic calcium, fat globule size, buffering capacity, and ethanol stability, but not on casein micelle size. The ratio of casein to total protein did not vary significantly over the season, but late-season milk had the highest content of glycosylated κ-casein (G-κ-CN) and the lowest content of α-lactalbumin in both years. We observed significant between-year effects on protein, total calcium, ionic calcium, pH, and casein: total protein ratio, which might have resulted from different somatic cell counts in the 2 years. Compared with heating at 90°C for 6 min, UHT treatment (140°C for 5 s) induced greater dissociation of κ-casein, a similar extent of whey protein denaturation, a lower extent of whey protein-casein micelle association, and a larger increase in casein micelle size. Indeed, UHT treatment might have triggered significant dissociation of G-κ-CN, resulting in aggregation among the casein micelles and increased apparent mean casein micelle diameter. Seasonality had significant effects on the partitioning of G-κ-CN between the micelle and the serum phase, the extent of whey protein-casein micelle association under both heating conditions, and the casein micelle size of the UHT milk.
There has been growing consumer interest in sheep and goat milk products as alternatives to cow milk products. The physicochemical characteristics of milk vary not only between ruminant species, but also during different seasons; they determine the nutritional quality and processing properties of the milk. In this study, we characterized sheep and goat milks from New Zealand over the seasons for their composition (macronutrients, macro- and micro-minerals, fatty acids, and proteins) and physicochemical properties (e.g., ionic calcium, fat globule size, casein micelle size, viscosity, and melting behavior of milk fat). Heat-induced (95 °C for 5 min) protein interactions and changes in the physical properties of the milks were also investigated. The compositional and structural features of sheep and goat milks were identified and compared with those reported for cow milk. Seasonal variations in the milk characteristics were more pronounced for sheep milk than goat milk and were probably affected by the production systems. Sheep milk, particularly in the late season, had the largest heat-induced increases in casein micelle size and viscosity, probably arising from the greater casein–whey protein and casein–casein interactions during heat treatment. This study provides comprehensive information on the properties of sheep and goat milks and highlights the interaction effects between species, season, and processing.
We investigated the effect of seasonal variations on the acid gelation properties of bovine milk in a seasonal-calving New Zealand herd for 2 full milking seasons. We tested the formation of acid gels in 2 milk systems: unstandardized skim milk and standardized whole milk (4.6% protein, 4.0% fat). For unstandardized skim milk, late-season milk acid gels had a longer gelation time and a lower gelation pH than early-and mid-season milk acid gels, but we found no consistent seasonal variation in the final storage modulus. For standardized milk, late-season milk had the most inferior acid gelation properties during the year, including the lowest final storage modulus, the lowest gelation pH, and the longest gelation time. Standardization alleviated but did not eliminate the prolonged gelation time of late-season milk. These results indicated that the physicochemical properties of seasonal milk contributed greatly to its acid gelation, independent of differences in protein content. Standardization was not adequate to stabilize the acid gelation properties of late-season milk. Desirable acid gelation properties correlated with lower glycosylated κ-casein content, lower β-lactoglobulin:α-lactalbumin ratio, lower extent of whey protein-casein micelle association, and lower total calcium and ionic calcium content. We discuss the possible effects of the correlating variables on the acid gelation properties of seasonal milk. Natural variations in the glycosylation degree of κ-casein might play an important role in acid gel structural development by altering the electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions among the milk proteins.
Milk is commonly exposed to processing including homogenization and thermal treatment before consumption, and this processing could have an impact on its digestion behavior in the stomach. In this study, we investigated the in vitro gastric digestion behavior of differently processed sheep milks. The samples were raw, pasteurized (75 °C/15 s), homogenized (200/20 bar at 65 °C)–pasteurized, and homogenized–heated (95 °C/5 min) milks. The digestion was performed using a dynamic in vitro gastric digestion system, the human gastric simulator with simulated gastric fluid without gastric lipase. The pH, structure, and composition of the milks in the stomach and the emptied digesta, and the rate of protein hydrolysis were examined. Curds formed from homogenized and heated milk had much looser and more fragmented structures than those formed from unhomogenized milk; this accelerated the curd breakdown, protein digestion and promoted the release of protein, fat, and calcium from the curds into the digesta. Coalescence and flocculation of fat globules were observed during gastric digestion, and most of the fat globules were incorporated into the emptied protein/peptide particles in the homogenized milks. The study provides a better understanding of the gastric emptying and digestion of processed sheep milk under in vitro gastric conditions.
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