Springbank Cheese Co. Crowfoot

What is washed-rind cheese?

washed rind

What is washed-rind cheese?

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What the heck is a washed-rind cheese?

No, there are no power washers, hoses, or bath towels involved…

You can spot (or smell) a washed-rind cheese from a mile away in a cheese shop. They have distinctive orange or reddish rinds and tend to range in texture from soft and supple to downright gooey. The coloration of the rind comes from a helpful little bacteria called b-linens, or brevibacterium linens. These same little bacteria are the culprits responsible for their pungent odor.

But how do these little b-linens appear in the first place?

Well, washed-rind cheeses are cheeses that are naturally not very acidic, meaning that the environment on the rind is perfectly predisposed for the growth of b-linens. When the cheese is young, it is washed, usually with a saltwater brine, but other tasty liquids such as beer, brandy, or eau de vie can be used. When I use the term washing, I mean that the cheese is literally rubbed down with a small amount of liquid, just enough to moisten the surface. This makes a perfect little habitat for b-linens to grow and proliferate, spreading their stinky little gospel across the surface of the cheese. From thence forward, the cheeses are washed a few times a week until fully ripened and ready for market.

All those b-linens have been working hard… it would only be right for us to show them a little love and chow on some stinky washed-rind cheeses.

Primo examples in the washed-rind, smear-ripened category include:
Morbier, Oka