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Alternative cheesemaking methods with raw ewes’ milk – microbiological, chemical, textural and sensory characteristics

Authors: Patricia J.M. Reis, Freni K. Tavaria and F. Xavier Malcata

Serra da Estrela cheese was manufactured using a novel, customised apparatus – designed to meet that specialty cheese’s specifications, and the resulting product was compared with that obtained via traditional manufacture in the same dairy. Semi-industrial cheesemaking led to a significantly (p<0.05) higher fat content in the final cheeses, with favourable consequences in terms of flavour and consumer acceptability – and significantly (p<0.05) lower viable numbers of (unwanted) enterococci in the matured cheese. Textural characteristics were broadly similar. Proteolysis was significantly (p<0.05) faster, but it was more variable in artisanal than in semi-industrial cheeses. The latter received significantly (p<0.05) better scores for organoleptic texture, but lower scores for flavour. However, both products were within the specifications set forth by national regulations pertaining to Serra da Estrela PDO cheeses, so the novel apparatus is rather promising towards improved small-scale cheesemaking.

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