“At this point, we have this project in laboratory conditions, but since the project has been running for three years, we are already experimenting in industrial conditions in companies, transferring this technology to production conditions,” said Muižniece-Brasava.
Whey arises as a by-product of the cheese and curd production process.
“A solution had to be sought to make whey on the surface of the cheese by applying a variety of micro-organisms, various additional substances. Because the whey is liquid, but we need the material to be non-liquid and to dry slowly and form a crust at once when coating the cheese,” said Inga Ciproviča, head of the Food Technology Department.
Initially, the task wasn't so simple. Cheese is a complex enough product that is reluctant to live with other materials.
“There are many different materials, but not all fit this product,” explained Ciproviča. “We have to take into account the characteristics that cheese has. It's actually a live product. When you buy [cheese] and it's in your fridge, it continues the process. The coating has ingredients that go into the cheese. And they can change the characteristics of cheese," said Ciproviča.
After different studies, scientists have managed to find a solution that does not affect the taste and characteristics of cheese.
“The casing will be transparent, the person will not even see it,” Muižniece-Brasava said.
The cheese is then packaged in a biodegradable packaging that decomposes itself in nature. One Estonian company has already shown an interest in this technology. The first results of the experiments at its factory are very promising.
Scientists hope that about a year or two of cheeses with the new coating and packaging will come to store shelves. The results of this study will be first enjoyed by Estonians, but in time the technology will also be introduced in Latvian factories.