The present research was undertaken to evaluate the sensory profile and consumers’ liking of functional ovine cheese containing probiotic cultures. Ovine cheese was made from ewe’s milk by animals reared in extensive conditions; cheesemaking trials were performed by using rennet paste containing probiotic cells. Experimental cheeses were denoted: cheese manufactured using lamb rennet paste without probiotic (C), cheese manufactured using lamb rennet paste containing a mix of Bifidobacterium lactis
and Bifidobacterium longum
(BB), and cheese manufactured using lamb rennet paste containing Lactobacillus acidophilus
(LA). Ovine cheese containing probiotic strains highlighted a more intense proteolysis and a greater level of short chain free fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid due to the metabolic activity of the adjunct microflora. The sensorial profile of ovine cheese showed lower humidity and gumminess in cheeses containing probiotics as a consequence of differences in the maturing process; furthermore, probiotic cheeses scored higher ratings for salty and pungent attributes. An interaction effect of probiotic, gender, and age of the consumers was detected in the perceived and the expected liking. The higher rate of expected liking in all experimental cheeses is attributed to the information given, regarding not only the presence of probiotic strains but also the farming conditions and cheesemaking technology.
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