After Valentine’s Day, we’ve had enough of winter. Bring on spring and its blooms, including bloomy-rind cheeses. Our third installment of virtual cheese school focuses on my favorite style of cheese, which offers up its creamy, silky glory for all to enjoy.
Also known as soft-ripened cheeses, bloomy rinds are exposed to molds and bacteria during the aging process, like their blue cousins. But while blue cheeses are injected with mold cultures, giving them a blue-veined interior, bloomy-rind cheeses only come into contact with the mold on their surfaces, which allows them to ripen from the exterior inward. The surface then “blooms” with a thin, white rind that is entirely edible and absolutely delicious. Please eat it – it pains me to see people scoop out the interior paste of bloomy rinds without tasting the delightful crust.
When they’ve come to room temperature, many bloomy-rind cheeses unleash a soft, liquid paste when cut. So rich and creamy, these cheeses can be a satisfying dessert course – no chocolate necessary. Other bloomy rinds don’t ripen evenly, especially those that are thick, dense wheels. In that case, you may cut into a wheel that is oozing just underneath the rind, but the paste near the center is still firm. According to Steven Jenkins, this chalky center is known in France as the l’ame, or “soul,” of the cheese. Both kinds are tasty, but you’ll probably prefer one over the other.
Bloomy-rind cheeses are natural matches for champagne and other sparkling wines, so it’s no wonder many of our C+C favorites fall into this category. Look for these American-made bloomies at your local cheese shop:
And if you’re craving some Old World cheeses, check out our imported favorites:
What are your favorite bloomy-rind cheeses? Share below or post to our Facebook page.