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.