The palates of consumers are ever changing, and in recent years tastes are trending towards bolder flavors from washed-rind cheeses.
“They have a lot more depth,” said Chris Roelli, Master Cheesemaker at Roelli Cheese Co. Inc. in Shullsburg, WI. “There's a lot more things going on, maybe some more character so to speak. No two are ever really the same.”
Roelli created a washed-rind, Alpine-style cheese called Little Mountain. A cheese that Roelli describes as having many layers of flavor.
“You've got not only the cultures within the cheese itself,” said Roelli, “but then you introduce an external culture that will interact with whatever the flora is in the air and certain things like that that will develop a whole new ecosystem on the outside of that cheese. And that's what will lend to the aroma and certain flavor characteristics of washed-rind cheese.”
Although many washed-rind cheeses can be used in a variety of cooking applications, they are often enjoyed alone as a snacking cheese.
Either way, washed-rind cheeses are gaining popularity among cheesemakers and chefs.
“People like their strong cheese,” said Myron Olson, Master Cheesemaker at Chalet Cheese Co-op in Monroe, WI,” and I think what you're seeing is you know this renaissance especially these last ten years there's a lot of artisan cheesemakers, it's becoming more popular, chefs are getting into it, restaurants are getting into it.”
Olson has been making Limburger for years and says that the popularity of this aromatic cheese continues to grow.
“There is a good market out there for it,” said Olson, “and I think it's just something that's going to keep growing.”
Perhaps the most common question about washed-rind cheeses is whether the rind can, or should, be eaten. Although most rinds are edible, eating the rind is a matter of individual taste and comfort level.
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