I love cheese, I love all kinds of cheese, I have issue with blues, but I generally love all kinds of cheese. I have a special place in my heart for washed-rind/smear-ripened cheeses. I love the stink, I love the flavour, I love the effort in looking after the cheese with the washing regiments. I can understand why Trappist Monks often used washing cheese as part of their prayer/work cycle, it is relaxing and a great time for reflection too. So when I recommended washed rind cheeses for the 10th Challenge for Cheesepalooza I did it with the hopes that everyone would enjoy them the way I do. Addie did a nice write-up on Valerie’s Acanadianfoodie.com and it can be found here. But what are Washed-rind/Smear-ripened Cheeses?
Washed-rind cheeses are soft in character and ripen inwards like those with white molds; however, they are treated differently. Washed-rind cheeses are periodically cured in a solution of saltwater brine and/or mold-bearing agents that may include beer, wine, brandy, and spices, making their surfaces amenable to a class of bacteria Brevibacterium linens (the reddish-orange “smear bacteria”) that impart pungent odours and distinctive flavours, and produce a firm, flavourful rind around the cheese. Washed-rind cheeses can be soft (Limburger), semi-hard, or hard (Appenzeller). The same bacteria can also have some impact on cheeses that are simply ripened in humid conditions, like Camembert. The process requires regular washings, particularly in the early stages of production, making it quite labour-intensive compared to other methods of cheese production.
Some washed-rind cheeses are also smear-ripened with solutions of bacteria or fungi, most commonly Brevibacterium linens, Debaryomyces hansenii, and/or Geotrichum candidum) which usually gives them a stronger flavour as the cheese matures. In some cases, older cheeses are smeared on young cheeses to transfer the microorganisms. Many, but not all, of these cheeses have a distinctive pinkish or orange colouring of the exterior. Unlike with other washed-rind cheeses, the washing is done to ensure uniform growth of desired bacteria or fungi and to prevent the growth of undesired molds. Notable examples of smear-ripened cheeses include Munster and Port Salut. Source Wikipedia
My first goat cheese Gouda could have been considered a washed-rind as I made a brine with Sage, Olive Oil and Kosher Salt and rubbed the rind every few days with it.
The next type of washed-rind cheese I made were my Irish Danes. These were Havarti that I washed repeatedly with Guinness over several weeks to get the look I was desiring. The flavour was amazing and the aroma was that of a good beer. They were strong-tasting .
My next attempt at a washed rind was a Scotch washed rind cheese. I used some scotch that a friend had given me to rub the rind repeatedly. I used curd from a cheddar make (before cheddaring) and it was glorious. The scotch seemed to seep into the paste and gave the cheese a nice hint of scotch but it was mild in flavour but great on “stink”
My last washed-rind cheese that I made was my “Faux-ka” or my version of an Oka. I love that little stinky cheese from Quebec. My version was stinky as I used a morge wash made from Oka rinds. My wife who was pregnant when she said the basement, where I kept the cheese fridge, smelled like someone had died in the basement. I took that as a complement.
Since discovering Washed-Rind/Smear-Ripened Cheeses I have never been wishy-washy about them. I love them. Once you get past the smell you are in for a treat. Plug your nose and dive in.
I highly recommend wearing gloves when washing your cheese or smearing the linens, your hands will thank you. Use ripening boxes to help to control the smell and control humidity. and enjoy. Go to a local cheese shop and ask for a sample of a washed rind cheese, you won’t regret it.
Take time and stop by Handyface’s blog. He has a great post about washed rind cheese. You can find it here.
I hope to finally make the Reblochon I have been craving sometime this month, but until then go and make some Stinky Cheese!
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