With a strong aroma and a variety of flavors and texture, serious cheese lovers and cheesemonger rave about washed rind cheese. If you have an adventurous palate, surely you’d also fall in love with this cheese; but you may wonder what washed rind cheese is, and what makes it different from other cheeses? In this article, we’ll delve into knowing more about this distinctive cheese.
Washed Rind Cheese
Cheese making follows a basic process, but in order to create different varieties of flavor and texture for cheese, certain treatments are added to the process. Washed rind cheese is surface ripened. This means that during the maturation process, cheese makers gently moisten (wash) the surface or rind of the cheese with a brush or a damp cloth.
The washing solution is often brine (salt solution) with Brevibacterium, a bacterium that helps in the ripening of cheese. The Brevibacterium, also known as Brevy or B linens, give the rind its orange to golden yellow color and the washed rind cheese’s excellent aroma.
Washing can be done once, twice or regularly. Its frequency and duration facilitates the ripening of the cheese and determines the intensity of its flavor and the depth of the rind’s color. Most cheese makers supplement the brine with alcohol. Beer, wine, brandy and whisky contribute to the flavor and depth of the cheese. It also allows the cheese to stay in a better condition longer and prevents the rind from cracking.
Sometimes, yeast and white mould spores are also added to the milk to produce a non-sticky and less pungent smell.
When Did Washing Cheese Begin?
Washing cheese in brine and other solutions date back to the Middle Ages. Monks from Northern France discovered that washing the rind during cheese ripening resulted in a moist, creamy and supple texture. The practice also stimulated the growth of bacteria that made the cheese less acidic and less pungent. This helped their abstinence from meat be more bearable.
Around the same time, a similar practice also emerged in the mountain areas. The extreme humidity of the mountains made it challenging to control the growth of bacteria, so cheese makers began washing the rinds.
What are the Common Characteristics of Washed Rind Cheese?
There are several soft and hard variants of washed rind cheese, giving cheese lovers different options to tickle their palates. Despite the variations, washed rind cheese has characteristics that set them apart from other cheeses. Here are some common characteristics of washed rind cheese.
Washed rind cheese has soft orange to golden yellow rinds. The rind is usually moist and a little sticky, but can also be a bit gritty because of the precipitation of calcium together with the gases formed by the bacteria.
Pungent smell is a key trait of washed rind cheese, that is why some people call it “stinky cheese”. The funky smell is because of the sulfur compounds produced by the bacterium as it grows. Don’t worry though. Even if washed rind cheese has a smell to stun, they are perfectly safe to eat and are delightful to the taste.
Taste and Texture
Though the various types of washed rind cheese may have distinct flavors unique to each, their flavor is much milder than their smell. Commonly, washed rind cheese is savory and creamy with a slightly yeasty flavor across the rind. They may also have hints of fruit, grass and nuts, with a texture that ranges from firm and slightly grainy to runny and silky to soft and smooth.
Famous Washed Rind Cheese with Classic Characteristics
- Ami du Chambertin
- Pont L ‘Evique
- Stinking Bishop
How to Store Washed Rind Cheese?
Washed rind cheese is best stored in a Cheese Grotto. This provides the cheese with a balanced humidity, airflow and natural materials that allow it to thrive and keep its signature texture and flavor.
Of course, the average consumer may not have a Cheese Grotto in their homes. Don’t fret. You can still have your fill of washed rind cheese. Simply wrap it in cheese paper and keep it well covered in your refrigerator so it doesn’t affect other produce. Using a cheese bell is ideal. Freezing cheese is an absolute no- no!
What Wines are Best with Washed Rind Cheese?
White and medium bodied red wines go well with washed rind cheese. If the washed rind cheese is briny, creamy and spreadable, a medium bodied funky wine like Pinot Grigio is the best option. If the washed rind cheese is a little older and tastes of deep nuttiness, a juicy berry wine like Pinot Noir is a splendid choice.
What Cultures Can Be Used for Washed Rind Cheese?
If you are an artisan cheese maker or are planning to be one, you’d be glad to know that there are cheese making cultures readily available in the market. For washed rind cheese, we highly recommend BioProx BL 405. This Bifidobacterium lactis can be used for all washed rind cheeses and can also be added to white mold cheeses to change the flavor profile.
Other Cheesemaking Cultures
This is a vital specialist in maturing cheese. Geotrichum Candidum aids in the work of Penicillium Candidum and Brevibacterium Linens which need a neutral environment. It produces a thick and smooth surface covered with minimal enzyme actions, which impacted the cheese’s flavor and appearance.
GEO 17 GeotrichumCandidum is a kind of yeast that gives the cheese a mold-like appearance and an extremely mild and flavorful aroma. It is a key agent in maturing some cheeses as it embeds quickly on the cheese’s surface and synergistically affects the implantation on flora.
Cheese Kettle also offers various cheese making cultures, starters, rennet, and dairy and brewing equipment for your cheese making needs. We also provide full engineering services for the dairy and food processing industry. Our experienced engineers and technologist can give you the best technical knowledge about cheese making whether you are a small or large business owner. Call us today.