Biochemical diversity of cardoon flowers (Cynara cardunculus L.): predicting PDO Mediterranean cheese textures

P. Barracosa*, I. Simões, A. P. Martins, M. Barros, E. Pires

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Cardoon flower extract is a vegetable coagulant used in the manufacture of some highly appreciated Mediterranean Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) sheep cheeses, due to their typical flavor and smooth texture. Flowers from 6 cardoon plants (1M–6M), selected on the basis of the total and specific A0, A and B cardosin concentrations were characterized using chromatographic and electrophoretic analysis. Extracts of these flowers were used to investigate the relationship between the biochemical profile and the proteolytic activity on caseins, coagulation properties and cheese texture. Milk-clotting activity and coagulation were measured using an Optigraph. Cheese making trials were done using the traditional protocol of Serra da Estrela PDO cheese manufacture. A multivariate exploratory PCA analysis showed that plants 4M, 5M and 6M with the highest total concentration of cardosins, the prevalence of cardosin A, proteolytic action with Ƙ-casein, and the lowest time of coagulation yielded cheeses with a firmer paste. Plants 1M, 2M and 3M, without the presence of cardosin A, were negatively influenced by the proteolytic action with β-casein, starting flocculation and gel consistency. Plant 3M showed a slow micellar aggregation rate and low gel firmness during milk coagulation, which was reflected in the smooth texture of the cheese. The specific characterization of natural biochemical diversity of cardoon flowers and their influence on cheese texture may help producers to choose the appropriated cardoon flowers to obtain a desired texture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100805
Number of pages11
JournalFood Bioscience
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Cardosins
  • Cheese ripening
  • Cynara cardunculus L.
  • Milk coagulation
  • “Serra da Estrela” cheese


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