Project: Valorisation of thistle-curdled CHEESEs in MEDiterranean marginal areas

Acronym VEGGIE-MED-CHEESES (Reference Number: 2018-SECTION2-25)
Project Topic In Western and Southern Mediterranean areas, herbaceous perennial plants, commonly referred to as “thistles”, have been used since ancient times as coagulating agents in the manufacture of traditional cheeses made from raw ewes’ or goats’ milk, either directly on- farm or at small dairies,most often located in marginal areas (high altitude pastures, arid dry lands, islands, etc.). Though these cheeses are greatly appreciated by consumers for their unique, distinctive flavor, their manufacturing is actually an occasional and unpredictable event since the availability of fresh leaves or flowers from spontaneously grown thistles largely depends on seasonal variations (e.g. higher average temperatures), and is limited to narrow time windows. The present project aspires to a full valorization of these local cheeses through a multidisciplinary integrated research work performed in 4 countries of the Mediterranean basin (IT, SP, GR, TN) covering the whole natural growth zone of spontaneous thistles. The research work will be focused on the characterization of thistle species and ecotypes spontaneously growing in these countries, as well as on their sustainable cultivation. The aqueous extracts (CEs) from spontaneously grown and cultivated thistles will be fully characterized as well, and further used for cheese-making of two cheeses traditionally manufactured with thistle rennet, namely “Caciofiore“ (IT) and “Torta del Casar” (SP), and two cheeses traditionally produced with animal rennet, namely “Queso de Murcia” (SP) and “Feta” (GR). All the cheeses will be characterized, through physicochemical, chemical, microbiological, textural, colorimetric and sensory analyses; nutritionally valuable, health-beneficial and hazardous substances ascribable to the use of CEs will be also investigated, as well as consumer needs, preferences and acceptance towards thistle-curdled cheeses. Based on these premises, a fully compliance of the Project to topic 3.1 is envisaged.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
In progress
Network PRIMA
Call Section 2 Call 2018 - Multi-topic

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 UNIVERSITA' POLITECNICA DELLE MARCHE Coordinator Italy
2 CONSIGLIO PER LA RICERCA IN AGRICOLTURA E L'ECONOMIA AGRARIA -CENTRO DI RICERCA PER GLI ALIMENTI E LA NUTRIZIONE Partner Italy
3 UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA SAN ANTONIO DE MURCIA Partner Spain
4 DEPARTMENT OF FOOD HYGIENE AND TECHNOLOGY VETERINARY RESEARCH INSTITUTE HELLENIC AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION DEMETER Partner Greece
5 HIGH INSTITUTE OF AGRONOMY OF CHOTT-MARIEM SOUSSE UNIVERSITY Partner Tunisia