Characterization of plant diversity of pastures and volatile organic compound analysis in eweâ€™s milk from a typical farm system in the Alta Murgia national park (southern Italy): opportunities for a sustainable land use
AbstractIn recent years, there has been an increasing interest of consumers in traditional dairy products whose origin from defined geographical areas is guaranteed. These products are appreciated for the distinctive sensorial characteristics, derived by extensive grazing system on natural and artificial pastures and traditional cheese-making techniques. Moreover, a considerable public interest is also attributed to typical dairy products for their role in stimulating the economy of rural areas and in preserving environment and biodiversity. Here we present the results of a survey on the botanical composition of Alta Murgia pastures, together with the analysis of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in milk from ewes reared under a typical farm system in the Alta Murgia National Park (Apulia region, southern Italy). Data from two less ordinary farm systems are also reported as external reference. The botanical composition of pastures was estimated by three modified Whittaker plots placed in the prevailing habitat types. Milk samples were analyzed for VOC compounds by head-space SPME/GC-MS. Consumer acceptance of cheese, made from each milk sample using homogeneous traditional cheese-making techniques, was evaluated. The study provides interesting insights on the floral composition of Alta Murgia pastures and the first characterization of VOC profiles in eweâ€™s raw milk from Alta Murgia.
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