Celebrating White Moulds!
Who’s in the family??
This includes Camembert, brie, double cream and triple cream!
These cheese all have a living, breathing mould that grows on the outside of the cheese and creates a velvety rind. The rind is extremely important for flavour development and without this the flavour would be dull and neutral. The mould is generally added be either adding the spores to the milk at the start of the cheesemaking process or they can be sprayed on to the surface of the cheese in the early stages of maturation. The mould begins to grow on the rind when it is exposed to air (hence when a cut cheese is left too long, the mould will start to grow on the cut surface).
Two types of cultures used to create these rinds: Penicillium candidum (a mould) and Geotrichium candidum (a yeast). Both of these create the protective coating around the cheese and contribute to a change in texture and flavour of the cheese inside. The rind is very important to the flavour development of the cheese because it assists in breaking down the proteins (peptides and amino acids) and the fats (fatty acids) from the outside into the centre. When young, the cheese has quite a firm texture and is acidic but as it matures, acidity levels lower and the texture of the cheese changes to become soft, smooth and oozy.
Take a look at the pictures below- the cheese on the left is very young and hence quite firm and chalky, whereas the cheese on the right is quite ripe and soft.
The shape and size of the cheese contributes to the flavor development too. If the cheese is too thick (ie high) in proportion to its diameter, the interior of the cheese will not develop proportionately to rind and hence the rind will mature past its best flavor profile before the rest of the cheese becomes soft and oozy.
Cheese ripening depends on many factors including, the fat content of the milk, the protein structure, the moisture content of the cheese and the environment in which its stored. Best eaten within 8-10 weeks. The names camembert and brie are produced all over the world, both industrial and small scale. Camembert de Normandie and Brie de Meaux are protected through AOC and PDO and can only be made in specific regions within France. Raw milk only.
Soft cheeses have a higher moisture content and lower acidity than hard cheese. Addition of extra cream, shortens the life of the cheese. High fat slows down the action of the rind. Brillat-Savarin is one of the most famous extra cream white mould cheeses developed in France
Choosing ripeness – squeeze, closer to their best before date, cut cheese – bulging (not running). A pure white rind means the cheese is either very young or industrially made but a cheese with rind that is excessively brown will probably be over ripe. Aim for an ivory tone and a few speckles of red/orange or brown.
Storage – Around 5 oC is ideal as they can continue to steadily ripen and develop flavour. Keep in its original wrapper as we use these to ripen a cheese correctly. Cut pieces will also continue to ripen but not in the same way. Much of their energy will go into growing mould across the cut surface. This may not look desirable but is still perfectly edible. If the cheese is stored in conditions that are too warm, the cultures will develop the cheese too quickly and create a very runny paste under the rind, along with excessive flavours and aromas, particularly ammonia characters. The cheese is living so must continue to breath.
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Hope you have found this as interesting as we do!