Friday, August 7, 2009

Washed = Stinky?

There is a new puppy in the office. She is really cute! She is coming into the office with her mom while she is being potty trained. The training isn't going very well at the moment. She seems to like going on the floor right near my desk, which maybe I should take as a compliment. Anyway, it got me thinking about all sorts of stinky liquids. AND, because I'm a little twisted, it got me thinking about brine, and washed rind cheese.

Before we go any further, I would like to reassure you, gentle reader, that there is no relation whatsoever between dog pee and cheese. At least not one that I have found. Just my weird mind making connections where there aren't any.

But, back to cheese...washed rind cheese get scheduled baths in brine (salt water solution) to encourage the bacteria that help ripen the cheese. They actually have their surfaces wiped down with a rag dipped in the brine solution. Most labor intensive. Different solutions create different flavors. The brine protects the cheese from getting moldy, keeps it moist, and gives the bacteria something to eat while they break down proteins and ripen the cheese. Some cheeses are just washed in brine, but others get a little extra wash in wine or beer to add additional flavor. One thing that really unites all of the washed rind cheeses is their distinctive odor. Some liken it to sweat socks. Yum. The good news is, they don't taste at all like they smell (not that I've tasted sweat socks...). They are complex and delicious, if not a little more challenging than your basic Cheddar. Limburger is a famous, stinky example, but there are many, many more, including Munster (France) and Taleggio (Italy). Don't be afraid of the smell. Just think about how cool/crazy/unique your friends will think you are for taking on this black-diamond cheese! You might just start a trend.

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