Cheese

Traditionally, production of cheese has been the greatest market for sheep milk throughout the world. Major international varieties of cheese produced from sheep milk are Pecorino Romano, Roquefort, Manchego, and Feta. In the United States, most of the sheep milk cheeses produced are artisinal cheeses. Since the cheesemaking process involves the concentration of casein and fat in the form of curd, the high solids in sheep milk make it an outstanding source of milk for manufacturing cheese. Sheep milk is more sensitive to rennet, coagulates faster, and produces a firmer curd than cow or goat milk.[9,10] Unlike cow milk, sheep milk is not susceptible to dissociation of b-casein from the casein micelle or solubilization of calcium phosphate under cold storage.[11] Yield of cheese from sheep milk is dependent on: breed of sheep, stage of lactation, management system, milk quality, milk storage, and nutrition of the ewe.[9] Pasteurized milk cheeses will have a lower level of lipolysis and slower flavor development than raw milk cheeses. The level of free fatty acids in cheese decreases as the season progresses from winter to summer.[12] Because the supply of sheep milk is seasonal, freezing of curd at — 23 °C for delayed ripening can be used without significant changes in cheese composition or lipolytic activity. Proteolysis does continue slowly during frozen storage with an increase in nonprotein and amino acid nitrogen.[13]

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