Natural variations among milk constituents, and their relations to each other as well as to processing parameters, represent possibilities for differentiation of milk to produce high-quality natural products. In this study, we focused on natural variations in milk citrate and its interplay with calcium distribution in milk, in relation to processing properties. Milk samples from individual cows from farms varying in feeding and management practices were collected from April to June 2017 to maximize natural variations in citrate and calcium. Chemical composition, rennet coagulation properties, and ethanol stability were analyzed for all milk samples. We focused particularly on calcium distribution and citrate content and the correlation of these to other milk parameters. No significant change in citrate content was observed during the sampling period, which suggests that mechanisms other than feeding affect citrate levels in milk. Several significant correlations were found, including a positive correlation between complexed serum calcium and citrate, and a negative correlation between urea and ionic calcium. These are both of interest in relation to further processing, as with regard to the stability of UHT milk and in cheese making. Although the correlation between complexed serum calcium and citrate may be explained by their affinity, the underlying driver for the negative relationship between natural milk urea and ionic calcium needs to be clarified by further studies. Furthermore, milk from the different farms varied not only with regard to organic versus conventional farming systems; feeding practices between farms also play an important role in milk composition and functionality. However, none of the differences in milk composition between farms were found to decrease milk functionality and thus would probably not cause any processing problems.
- calcium distribution
- milk urea