Sheep Breeds and Canestrato Pugliese Cheese

In this section, we report an example that can be considered a case study. The study was carried out at the CRA-ZOE experimental farm of Foggia (41o270N; 15o330E), located at 76 m a.s.l in the Apulia region (Southern Italy). The maximum and minimum environmental temperatures and relative humidity during the different seasons were 23 oC, 11 oC and 68 % in spring, 30 oC, 17 oC and 64 % in summer, 19 oC, 9 oC and 76 % in autumn and 13 oC, 3 oC and 78 % in winter. The average annual rainfall was 391 mm, mainly occurred in autumn. Temperature humidity indexes were 64, 78, 68 and 57.5 in spring, summer, autumn and winter, respectively. The botanical composition of native pasture included 18.9 % Graminaceae, 12 % Leguminosae, 13.5 % Compositae, 11.2 % Labiatae, 0.3 % Caryophyllaceae and other botanical families being represented in lower percentage.

A flock set-up of four breeds of mature sheep was used. In order to compare local and non-native breeds, the flock was set-up with two native breeds, Altamurana

(A) and Gentile di Puglia (Apulian Merino) (G), and two non-native breeds, Comisana (C) and Sarda (S), the most important Mediterranean sheep breeds and native of Sicily and Sardinia regions, respectively (Table 1). All animals were homogeneous for days in milk (75 ± 11 DIM) and body condition score (2.75). The flock grazed on native pasture during the day and was housed in shaded open pens during the night. All sheep were supplemented with 0.6 kg/day of concentrate in two equal meals at milking.

Canestrato Pugliese Cheesemaking, Sampling and Analysis of Milk and Cheese

Three cheesemakings of Canestrato Pugliese were carried out for each breed in CRA-ZOE's experimental dairy for three consecutive days.

Canestrato Pugliese Cheese

Italian Pecorino, uncooked hard cheese, recognised with Protected Designation of Origin: it is produced in Bari and Foggia provinces (Apulia region) exclusively from raw, but also thermised or pasteurised, whole sheep milk. The cheese derived its name and traditional shape from the rush basket “Canestro”, in which the curd is ripened. During ripening, usually the rind is rubbed with a mixture of oil and vinegar. The cheese has a cylindrical shape, 10–14 cm height, 25–34 cm in diameter, and weighs 7–14 kg (PDO, CE Reg. n. 1107/96). Paste is pale yellow coloured, more or less intense depending on age; compact texture, somewhat crumbly, poorly melting, not very elastic, with just visible eyes; characteristic spicy taste fairly marked.

The flowchart of Canestrato Pugliese cheese manufacture is shown in Fig. 1.

Cheese was ripened for 6 months in a natural cave at CRA-ZOE of Bella.

Milk samples were collected at milking time, and cheese samples were obtained at the end of the ripening period. Milk and cheese samples were analysed for pH, chemical composition and fatty acid (FA) content. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and sensory profile were evaluated on cheeses. Basic chemical composition was measured according to standard methods as previously reported (Pizzillo et al. 2005). FA separation and quantification was carried out using a gas chromatograph as reported by Di Trana et al. (2004). The Health-Promoting Index (HPI) was calculated as the ratio between the unsaturated FAs content and lauric acid, palmitic acid and 4 x miristic acid contents (Chen et al. 2004). VOC content was assessed by multiple dynamic headspace extraction and GC-MS (Ciccioli et al. 2004). The cheese sensory profile was evaluated, at room temperature, by ten panellists using a 0–9 point graduated scale for each attribute.

Changes in milk and cheese chemical compositions, FA profile and VOC profile were analysed by ANOVA procedure (Systat 7 1997). Analysis included the effect of sheep breed (Apulian Merino, Altamurana, Comisana and Sarda). Sensory profile data were normalised before submitting them to ANOVA repeated measures procedure. Significance was declared at P < 0.05 and tendencies at 0.05 < P ::; 0.10; differences between means were tested using Fisher's LSD test. In order to ascer-tain the discriminant effect of the sheep breed on products, milk and cheese data

Fig. 1 Flowchart of Canestrato Pugliese cheese

were pooled per breed and submitted to a multivariate approach by Stepwise Discriminant Analysis (Systat 7 1997).

 
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