Washed-rind Cheese

Go on and wow me, washed-rind cheese

In the great cheese party of life, a washed-rind cheese is the guest with the over-sized personality that won't be ignored. Full of character and salty vigor, a washed-rind variety always loudly announces itself with a strong aroma, drawing half the room into its orbit while sending the other half running for the doors. These famously stinky cheeses are for adventurous eaters who appreciate their complex, meaty flavors. There's nothing like a washed-rind cheese to separate the true cheese-lovers from the dabblers, pretenders, and wannabees.

Here in Wisconsin, count us as part of the true cheese-loving crowd – we're wild about washed-rind cheeses. We're big fans of both the big stinkers like limburger as well as the milder varieties like brick and Montague. When there's a washed-rind cheese on the table, we savor every pungent aroma and every meaty bite of these super delicious varieties.

Take a spin through our website to meet some award-winning Wisconsin washed-rind cheeses. Search our index for gourmet mac and cheese recipes featuring washed-rind varieties. Or scroll down for info on how to make cheese with a washed rind, and for tips on pairing these full-flavored varieties with wine and food.

How to pair a washed-rind cheese

When pairing, you'll want to find food and beverages that can hold their own with the powerful flavors of a washed-rind cheese. When eating, that means grub like dark breads, spicy pub mustards, crisp and assertive apples, or sturdy green salads.

When pouring pints, try a bock, stout, pale ale, porter, or Belgian ale. And when popping corks, wines with big personalities are in order – cabernet sauvignon, red zinfandel, and grüner veltliner will all match the intensity of a washed-rind cheese.

And here's a helpful tip: when you're storing the really stinky cheeses, we recommend a tightly lidded container to keep the aroma from invading other foods in the refrigerator.

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FAQs: What is washed-rind cheese?

What is washed-rind cheese?

Washed-rind cheeses are regularly washed with salt water, beer, wine, or other mold-bearing agents during the aging process. Washed-rind cheeses may be immersed in brine or brushed or sprayed with liquid. Washing – which may happen daily, weekly, or monthly – encourages cheese mold or bacteria to grow on the surface of the cheese, helping it to ripen and giving it distinctive flavors. Washed-rind cheeses may be softer cheeses like limburger or brick or harder cheeses like gruyère.

Why do washed-rind cheeses smell?

Washing a cheese encourages the growth of certain bacteria on the rind, and some of these bacteria have a very strong aroma. The Brevibacterium linens bacteria or B. linens bacteria, in particular has a strong pungent smell that's reminiscent of stinky sneakers. But the flavors of these cheeses are much milder than their smell.

Can I serve washed-rind cheese on a cheese board?

Absolutely. Washed-rind cheeses make an excellent contribution to meat and cheese trays. Leave the cheese off the board until you're ready to serve it, to prevent its aroma from permeating other adjacent cheeses. And be sure to give a washed-rind cheese its own knife.

What is a cave-aged cheese?

A cave-aged cheese is a cheese that is ripened within a cave, as many cheeses were traditionally aged. The consistent temperature and humidity within caves can be ideal for the ripening of many cheeses, including washed-rind varieties. A cave cheese often absorbs the bacteria like B. linens that grow naturally within a cave.

Why choose a washed-rind cheese from Waukesha?

Washed-rind cheeses need a lot of attention. The bacteria and mold that give the cheese its flavor and texture must be expertly cultivated to make something that smells so bad, tastes so good. In Wisconsin, our cheesemakers are veritable gurus of washed-rind techniques, producing wonderfully stinky cheeses that never fail to deliver the flavor.

Of course, that's just what you'd expect from a state that's devoted to doing one thing better than anyplace else: making the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese on the planet. Washed-rind cheeses may be just a few of the 600+ flavors, styles, and varieties of cheese we make in Wisconsin, but we lavish them with the attention they need to develop into the best versions of their stinky selves.

So, next time you're looking for an award-winning washed-rind cheese, just look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label. That's when you know you've got your hands on a real stinker.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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