The effects of high-pressure homogenisation (HPH) in the pressure range 100-300 MPa on the gel formation and rheological properties of rennet-induced skim milk (0.08%, fat, w/w) and standardised milk (3.60% fat, w/w) gels at pH 6.60 were studied. The average casein micelle size in skim milk was significantly reduced and the gel formation time decreased when skim milk was subjected to the pressures of 200 and 300 MPa. The storage modulus of rennet-induced skim milk gels at 2700 s after rennet addition was higher for samples homogenised at higher pressures, which contained smaller casein particles. HPH had little effect on the large deformation properties of rennet-induced skim milk gels. The gel formation time of renneted standardised milk was significantly reduced as a result of HPH, while the storage modulus of rennet-induced milk gels 2700 s after rennet addition increased with increasing homogenising pressure. The apparent fracture stress was slightly higher for standardised milk gels formed from HPH-treated milk, whereas the apparent strain at fracture was lower, than that of unhomogenised milk. In conclusion, HPH treatment influenced gel formation processes of skim milk and its small-deformation rheological properties, mainly through modification of casein micelles. HPH also significantly affected the gel formation process of standardised milk gels and its rheological properties as a result of an increase in volume fraction of aggregating particles, while the particle size was of lesser importance.
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