FAR-M camel milk coagulant clots donkey milk too, says Chr Hansen
Extremely low levels of kappa-casein - a milk protein key to the cheesemaking process - in donkey milk have previously made coagulation "impossible," according to Chr Hansen.
But using FAR-M, which was developed to aid the production of cheese from camel milk, Dr Guiseppe Iannella, an independent food technologist, was able to produce fresh donkey milk with a "very mild taste" and a "semi-rigid" texture.
Ripened for a few weeks, the donkey milk cheese produced using FAR-M broke "like parmesan" and had a "more distinct, piquant flavour and an after-taste characteristic of the donkey milk."
"The idea to produce cheese came to me through an Italian owner of a farm breeding donkey and who wanted to explore the employability of donkey milk," said Iannella.
"Through my research, I discovered that casein micelle present in this milk is efficiently coagulated with FAR-M and this has resulted in the first cheese produced with donkey milk using rennet coagulation."
The "low levels of fat and protein in donkey milk" mean yield is "limited" at around 3%, he said.
"...but the result is a good and tasty cheese," Iannella added.
This discovery, Chr Hansen claims, opens up "new business opportunities for cheese producers all over the world."
FAR-M - pure camel chymosin (an enzyme found in rennet) produced by fermentation - was developed by Chr Hansen to aid the production of cheese from camel milk.
With camel milk, the use of traditional coagulants results in weak curd formation or in some cases the complete absence of clotting when producing camel cheese.
FAR-M is the only know option for coagulation of camel milk, due to its high milk clotting specificity combined with a reduced proteolytic activity.
In February 2014, Chr Hansen unveiled a number of cheese recipes for camel owners, including one for soft, ripened cheese they called Camelbert.