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Proteolytic and lipolytic changes during the ripening of León raw cow's milk cheese, a Spanish traditional variety


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Proteolytic and lipolytic changes were studied throughout ripening of five batches of León cow's milk cheese, a traditional variety made in the north of Spain. Total soluble nitrogen, non-protein nitrogen, oligopeptides nitrogen, amino nitrogen and ammonia nitrogen fractions increased slightly during the ripening process. The final values of these nitrogen fractions indicate that this cheese undergoes a very slight proteolysis as much in extent as in depth. This weak protein degradation is corroborated when the caseins and their degradation products were quantified by electrophoresis. β-Casein stayed practically intact throughout the ripening process and only 10% of αs-casein became degraded. The content of total free amino acids increased progressively but in a slightly increased way during ripening, reaching final average values of 592 mg (100 g)−1 of total solids. The most abundant free amino acid at the end of ripening was lysine, followed by leucine, glutamic acid, tryptophan, valine and phenylalanine. The acidity index of the fat values increased during ripening by a factor of 4.39. The final values of this parameter are in the range of those observed in other cow's milk cheeses ripened by bacteria. The content in total free fatty acids underwent an increase throughout ripening reaching final average values of 6669 ppm. The most abundant free fatty acid at the end of ripening was oleic acid followed by butyric and palmitic acids. The high content of short-chain fatty acids is outstanding, specially that of butyric acid.