The main compounds responsible for the aroma of bovine, ovine, caprine and water buffalo freshly secreted milk have been identified by means of a gas chromatography–olfactometry technique. Of the fourteen odour-active volatile compounds detected, eight were present in all milks studied. Ethylbutanoate and ethylhexanoate (fruit-like aroma), among the neutral odorants, were the major contributors to the odour of bovine, ovine and caprine milk. The aroma of water buffalo milk was less dependent on ethylhexanoate and was also due to l-octen-3-ol (aroma of raw mushrooms), nonanal (freshly cut grass), indole (stable, animals) and an unidentified constituent, characterized by a retention index of 828, with a typical odour of warm milk and/or smoked cheese. Other aroma components were specific for some types of milk, contributing to the complexity and richness of flavour.
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