The work described in this Research Communication addressed the hypothesis that it is possible to produce cheese from donkey milk by appropriate adjusting of the cheesemaking parameters. A series of coagulation trials were performed on donkey milk, alone or fortified with goat milk (85/15 and 70/30, v/v), using calf rennet under different technological conditions. The parameters that changed were pH and concentration of soluble calcium, amount of rennet added and temperature of coagulation. Donkey milk gave rise to sufficiently firm curd only at ‘extreme’ technological conditions and, as expected, addition of goat milk improved coagulation. A cheesemaking protocol was developed for producing fresh cheese prototypes, which were checked for microbiological safety, chemical composition and sensory characteristics. Pure donkey milk gave 5·9% yield, cheese having 6·12 pH, 32·4% dry matter, 2·1% fat and 18·5% protein. The electrophoretic analysis ascertained that β-casein was the most abundant compound in donkey cheese, but whey proteins were also present in non-negligible amounts. Finally, the sensory evaluation demonstrated that all cheeses were acceptable and provided detailed description of their flavour characteristics.
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