While naturally rich in umami, cheese, especially aged cheeses, also tend to be high in salt. This is especially true of processed cheese products, such as flavored cheese balls. If approached by a leading CPG client to reformulate its flavored spreadable cheddar cheese “party” ball to reduce sodium and enhance flavor, the product support team at Ajinomoto Health and Nutrition would approach the challenge with the goal of attaining a 25% reduction in total sodium chloride levels, while imparting a delicious aged character to the end product.
Assumptions: The party cheeseball product initially consisted of aged cheddar cheese, natural flavors (white wine, garlic, spices) and trace amounts of natural binders and preservatives. Added salt made up 200mg/oz. Formed into 280g balls and rolled in toasted walnut pieces, the 25% salt reduction goal would allow for no more than 1,500mg salt per package, 150mg/oz serving.
While glutamates deliver the taste of umami, the taste concept referred to as kokumi has no specific flavor on its own, but adds richness and complexity to a formulation. In fact, the word kokumi is derived from the Japanese word meaning “rich taste.” Ingredients that stimulate kokumi work synergistically with existing aged and fermented notes inherent in other ingredients in the formulation matrix.
The antioxidant thiol compound glutathione is particularly good at imparting the kokumi effect, similar to the capacity of the amino acid glutamate imparting umami. To naturally leverage this ability, Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc. developed its line of high-glutathione yeast extracts, Savorboost K.
Savorboost K is a yeast extract delivering kokumi’s taste enrichment capacity through the presence of the reduced form of glutathione. Adding Savorboost K to impart kokumi creates a deeper and more well-rounded flavor profile. For example, in a stew or sauce that develops more complex tastes over time, kokumi harmonizes flavors and imparts “mouthfulness.”
Savorboost K is also a cost-effective ingredient, requiring small amounts and returning big flavor influence. With the flavor enhancement qualities of kokumi, ingredients such as garlic, soy sauce, and cheese can be reduced in a savory formulation.
With this reformulation, flavor evaluation would reveal no major flavor differences between the original and Savorboost K-modified formulations. Moreover, the reformulated version could be described as having more pronounced “aged-cheddar notes” and a “cheesier” flavor.
Savorboost K enhances the cheese flavor that is lost when sodium is reduced, supporting product developers who want to reduce added sodium in savory food formulations while preserving the overall flavor in their final product.
Research chefs, foodservice chefs and manufacturers can use Savorboost K to improve the character of a savory, flavored cheese-based product, processed cheeses, and cheese-based spreads to enhance ancillary flavor notes, including aged notes, typically associated with high-end, artisanal, and boutique cheese products while lowering overall costs of manufacture.
Contact Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition to learn more about how to partner for reduced sodium solutions in dairy formulations, savory snacks, breads, soups and broths, sauces, dressings and condiments and more.