Usually Washed-Rind Cheese
There are exceptions, but the majority of stinky cheese that you will find will be washed-rind. This type of cheese ripens starting on the inside and working its way in to give it a unique flavor. In washed-rind cheese, the aging occurs via surface bacterial growth. The cheesemakers will bathe the cheese in a brine made of saltwater that sometimes includes alcohol as well. A particular bacteria, Brevibacterium linens (B-linens) thrives in this type of moist, warm environment and makes its presence known by creating a red or pinkish hue along the cheese’s surface. When the rind of the cheese is washed, mold growth is discouraged while bacterial growth is encouraged, leading to chemical reactions that give stinky cheese their strong and complex flavors, including buttery, nutty, and woodsy tones.
History Of Stinky Cheese
As with most types of cheese, the exact history of stinky cheese is unknown, but experts have a good idea of what probably happened. They think that monks from the northern coastal areas of France first made stinky cheeses with a washed-rind. Monks in this area would usually use an alcohol mixture to wash the cheese surface to help prevent the formation of harmful mold. This was a more hygienic option during the time than saltwater mixtures would have been. This unique combination of humidity, low-acidity, and salt led to the pink to orange rind as well as the pungent aromas.
There are many different types of stinky cheese, but some of the most popular are Epoisses, Esrom, Munster d’Alsace, Limburger, Liederkranz, Livarot, Pont L’Eveque, Stinking Bishop, and Taleggio. The last of these, Taleggio is an Italian Stracchino cheese with a soft consistency and strong aroma. It comes from the Lombardy area of Italy. Epoisses, the first stinky cheese on the list, is considered to be one of the best French cheeses. This cheese is made into rounds and sold in circular wooden boxes that most cheese experts will instantly recognize. The cheese has a red/orange rind and creamy, salty flavor.