• sensory;
  • raw milk;
  • cheese;
  • starter culture;
  • ripening

ABSTRACT: This study characterizes and compares the sensory aspects of raw ewes’ milk cheeses manufactured with and without the addition of a starter culture using specifically developed sensory terminology. Furthermore, overall organoleptic quality was assessed at each ripening stage. Two different raw ovine milk cheese batches were manufactured with and without the addition of a freeze-dried starter. Sensory differences in odor, flavor, and texture were related to starter and raw milk flora activities during manufacturing and ripening. Cheeses made with the addition of a starter culture were scored higher by quality experts. Cheeses manufactured without a starter culture received higher scores for dirty and animal attributes, such as rennet, butyric, sharp, pungent, and brine, possibly related to lower quality scores. Conclusions reached in the present study coincide with previous ones; however, by using a sensory lexicon specifically developed for ewes’ milk cheeses, it has been possible to describe slight and specific differences in the cheeses.