Cheese Personality: Aesthetic Mold
Of course a cheese's personality is largely dependent on the taste, texture, aroma, and ingredients that go into it, but there are other parts of a cheese's story that contribute to its character. In this blog series, Natalie investigates the distinct personality traits of some of the most unique cheeses out there.
These cheeses are moldy are they’re not afraid to show it.
Though mold is often viewed negatively, cheese-lovers know it can sometimes be a great thing. Natural mold growth (eased along by cheesemakers) can make for a texture or appearance on a cheese that is truly unforgettable. Various molds are introduced to cheese creating textural, even sometimes very colorful patterns that can have a lot in common with abstract art.
This dry, aged orb is quite the sight inside and out. The rind is reminiscent of a pumice stone or other kind of rock formation; the paste is a brilliant burnt orange color.
Photo by NPR's The Salt
Extra aged mimolette even starts to look cratered. The rind is technically edible, though it's quite tough and doesn't have a particularly appealing taste.
Photo by French and Parfait
In the case of cheeses like this aged mimolette, microscopic cheese mites are drawn to the rind by the tasty mold and appear to the naked eye as specs of dust. Cheese mites find the mold on mimolette, which is called Scopulariopsis, to be irresistible. The mold on mimolette is a strand of Scopulariopsis. Recently, mimolette has been under fire by officials in the United States for containing too many mites per square inch; other countries, though, still consider it safe to consume.
This Twig Farm cheese is fuzzy all over—a picture does not do justice to its texture. You have to feel it to believe it.
Photo by Formaggio Kitchen
The rind of Fuzzy Wheel is edible, though many opt out of eating it. That amount of mold doesn’t always sit well with the faint of heart.
Photo by Murray's Cheese
This herbed cheese is Murray’s Cheese’s take on Fleur du Maquis. The rind is coated in herbs, but it’s also washed with a special mold, which adds even more character to the cheese.
Brian Ralph, the Cave Master at Murray's Cheese, is a big fan of mold and its transformative effects on cheese. He introduces Sporendonema casei, a bright orange strain of mold, to this cheese, and as it grows it contributes a furry textural coating and a mushroomy flavor.
Sporendonema casei mold (photo by Benjamin Wolfe)
For some more visually pleasing rinds ripe with mold and other textures, check out this photo essay by Wil Edwards about the Wallace and Grommet are now an integral part of Wensleydale's personality.