Currently, the total production of sheep milk in the world is approximately 8.2 million metric tons. Top sheep milk-producing countries include China, Italy, Turkey, and Greece. In the United States, the sheep milk industry is in the early stages of development. The current annual U.S. sheep milk production is estimated to be about 2000 metric tons. The majority of the sheep milk is used to produce either yogurt or various varieties of cheese.
ature, short-time (HTST 72°C for 15 seconds) or vat pasteurization (63°C for 30 minutes). Sensory analysis of HTST-pasteurized milk and untreated milk indicated no significant difference in flavor while vat pasteurized milk sometimes yielded a slight muttony flavor. Minimal pasteurization treatments should be used for sheep milk for cheesemaking as whey proteins in sheep milk are more susceptible to heat denaturation than whey proteins from cow milk. For production of safe raw milk cheeses, processing procedures must include proper control of pH, salt content, water activity, and cheese-ripening time.
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