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Romano Cheese

Overview

Romano is a hard, flavourful grating cheese related to parmesan. Different types of romano cheese are available depending on whether the cheesemilk originated from cows, goats or sheep. The milk used to produce romano cheese is typically defatted to a level just above 2% fat. The milk can be pasteurized (most common approach) or raw since the final product has a long aging time. Once the cheesemilk is prepared, starter culture and rennet paste are added. The starter organisms convert lactose to lactic acid while the rennet cleaves the kappa casein on the surface of the casein micelles. The combined effect is precipitation of the casein proteins and the development of a curd. It is important to note that rennet paste is used in the production of romano cheese and this differs from the rennet extract that is used in the production of other cheeses such as cheddar and mozzarella. The difference is that the rennet paste contains the necessary proteolytic enzymes plus lipolytic enzymes, which are absent in the rennet extract. Breakdown of the fat in the cheese as it ripens leads to the production of short chain fatty acids, compounds that contribute to the strong odour and flavour of the cheese. Once formed, the curd is cut into small cubes and cooked at about 50C for 45 minutes to promote the expulsion of whey. During the cooking process there is some further breakdown of lactose and acidification of the curd. The curds can then be loaded directly into hoops or partly salted and then loaded into hoops. The curd mass is then pressed at moderate pressure to remove more of the moisture content. Cheese that has not been previously salted can be brined, or if previously salted then the cheese is dry salted. The cheese is then aged for 5-12 months, during which time the characteristic flavour and odour develop due to the action of the proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes. The moisture content of the cheese is also decreased as it ages.

Romano cheese is used as an ingredient to add strong flavour and some nutritional value to foods. Romano cheese is high in protein and provides a good source of calcium, iron and phosphorous. Romano cheese is commonly used in a grated form as the low moisture content facilitates the grating of the cheese. Romano cheese can also be spray dried and used as a powder.

Romano is a hard cheese with a natural colour of pale yellow. The texture of romano cheese is granular and the cheese grates well. The flavour of romano cheese is very strong (even stronger than parmesan) as the cheese undergoes a long aging period. The salt content of romano cheese is higher than many other cheeses.


Composition

According to federal standards of identity, romano cheese should contain a maximum of 34% moisture and a minimum of 25% fat.

Typical composition of Romano Cheese

 Moisture

 31%

 Protein

 32%

 Fat

 27%

 Carbohydrate

 3.5%

 Ash

 6.5%

 

Lipid profile of Romano Cheese
(g/100g of cheese)

 Saturated fatty acids

 17.12

 Monounsaturated
 fatty acids

 7.84

 Polyunsaturated
 fatty acids

 0.59

 Cholesterol

 0.104

 

Vitamins and Minerals
(mg/100 g)

 Sodium

1200

 Potassium

 86

 Calcium

 1064

 Phosphorus

 760

 Magnesium

 41

 Zinc

 2.58

 Iron

 0.77

 Copper

 0.030

 Manganese

 0.03

 Selenium

 0.014

 Vitamin A

 0.141

 Thiamin

 0.037

 Riboflavin

 0.370

 Niacin

 0.077

 Vitamin B6

 0.085

 Folate

 0.007

 Vitamin B12

 0.0011

 Pantothenic Acid

 0.424

 Vitamin C

0

 Vitamin E

 0.727


Cheese is of high nutritional value due to its high concentration of proteins. Casein contains various levels of all the essential amino acids although it is relatively low in sulfur containing amino acids. As a result the protein quality of cheese is slightly less than that of milk, which retains the sulfur rich whey proteins.

In terms of microbiological standards, all cheeses made from pasteurized milk must contain fewer than 100 Escherichia coli per gram and fewer than 100 Staphylococcus aureus per gram. If the cheese is made from unpasteurized milk, the allowable levels are 500 E. coli per gram and 1000 S. aureus per gram.


Functional Properties/Application Based on End Use


Romano cheese has a texture that is good for grating. Grated romano cheese does melt when heated and so it can be used melted on top of foods or to add viscosity to certain products such as soups and sauces. The most important property of romano cheese is its strong flavour and most applications include the cheese for this reason. Given its strong flavour, only a limited amount of cheese is required to give the product the desired cheese flavour. This makes romano cheese particularly suitable for calorie reduced applications.

  • Grated romano can be used as a flavourful topping for pasta dishes such as spaghetti or other items such as breads, baked potatoes or salads.
  • Grated romano can be mixed with other ingredients to provide a flavourful filling for items such as filled pastas or perogies.
  • Grated romano cheese can be incorporated into various items such as meatballs or mashed potatoes to provide flavour.
  • Grated romano cheese can be baked into breads to provide zesty flavour.
  • Grated romano cheese can be melted into a soup or sauce to provide viscosity and flavour.
  • Dried romano cheese can be used as a source of flavour in dry mixes such as pasta sauce mixes.
  • Dried romano can also be used to provide flavour as part of a coating for snack foods.
  • Dried romano imparts a pleasant flavour to salad dressings and dips.

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