I was wondering if you might post on your "recipes wanted" section a request for recipes specifically developed or adapted for sheep's milk? I know three are a number of English and European cheese made with ewe's milk but very few recipes on line or in my books seem to specifically deal with it.
Here at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, we don't have much opportunity to use sheep milk with our recipes. We can tell you some of the basics, but we admit to having very limited experience with the real thing. So, if you have a sheep farm and you are making cheese with your milk, we would love to hear from you.
"Who's Your Farmer?" and they were kind enough to let us use their pictures here). You may not even realize many of the cheeses you eat regularly are traditionally made with sheep milk:
There are many advantages to making cheese with sheep milk:
1. Sheep milk can be frozen until enough is accumulated to make cheese. This is because, unlike cow and goat milk, the smaller fat and protein particles do not separate when defrosting. (Note: the ideal temperature for freezing is -17F or lower.)
2. Sheep milk has more solids in it than cow and goat milk. In fact, up to 2 and 1/2 times as much cheese can be made from one gallon of sheep milk than from other milks. It is so thick that yogurt made with sheep milk does not require any firming agents (which raise the lactose level in other yogurts).
Composition of different kinds of milk
Source: The nutritional value of sheep milk by George F. W. Haenlein
3. Because sheep milk is loaded with more fat, protein, and vitamins, it tastes sweeter than other milk. Sheep milk is highly nutritious, richer in vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium than cow's milk.
4. Many people who can't eat cow or goat milk cheese, can eat sheep milk because the smaller fat globules are more easily digested. According to recent studies*, sheep milk has more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than the milk from pigs, horses, goats, cattle, and humans. CLA is a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat.
* This comes by permission, from a great website, Sheep 101.
1. If you are buying your sheep milk, it is usually expensive and the season is shorter.
2. Because the milk is so loaded with good bacteria, it needs to be either frozen or made into cheese very soon after milking, because it spoils rapidly.
3. When you are using sheep milk, you are usually using milk from ewes that are in the same stage of lactation. Therefore the variations between early and late stage lactation are much more apparent; the milk from early lactation coagulates much faster than the milk from late lactation.
Therefore, you need to pay much more attention to the amount of rennet you are using in your recipes. During early lactation, you may need to decrease it by as much as 5 times the amount designated in recipes such as ours.
As we said, we do not claim to be experts on the use of sheep milk. So, we would welcome any information you might share with us about your experience with it. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.