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Let’s talk washed rind cheese, what is it really?

Le Petite Rouge made by L'Artisan
Time to pull apart, not only delicious cheese like the orange beauty above, but also the term - washed rind cheese. What is it really and why do we refer to the washed rind cheeses as 'stinky'? Continue reading to find out! 
WHAT IS A WASHED RIND?
To fully understand what a washed rind cheese is, let's start off by talking about the rind. It's the outside of the cheese, more specifically the exterior developed during the maturing process. What a washed rind cheese simply refers to then, is a cheese which during maturation is regularly bathed in a solution! In some countries it's traditionally washed in alcoholic beverages like cider and brandy, others choose to wash their cheese in special brine solutions! Each giving different tasting profile and colouring of the rind. 
HISTORY
The first washed rind cheese ever made is said have carried the name Munster. Made by French monks during the middle ages, way back in time. These French monks specialised in making delicious indulgences such as wine, cheese and bread. The saying goes that one day a monk discovered mould growing on the outside of one of the cheeses. Frightened by his discovery he wanted to clean the cheese, to get rid of this foreign growth. Taking what he had, a sanitary solution at the point of time, the cheese got scrubbed in a brine like or alcohol solution. The next day he discovered that the cheese had developed a different colour. He washed it again. The next day, the colour was different again and it started to get smelly. Scared of what he had done he asked other monks about it, and the story goes that no one knew what had happened. But it's the middle ages, so food wastage was a big no, so someone had to try it! The rest is history, it was so good that the news spread and washed rind cheeses came to be something people look for! Smelly deliciousness! 
CHARACTERISTICS
Washed rind cheeses are washed in different brine or alcoholic solutions, and depending on the washing schedule, the cheese and many other complex factors the washed rind will take on different characteristics. Some will be more pungent in its smell than others. Some will be peachy. Some will be bright orange, and vibrant in their colour! But the most common characteristics (in general) can be narrowed down too:
  • Strong smell
  • Earthy flavour profile
  • Beautiful colouring that can go from peachy, to orange (or red if washed in red wine!)
SO WHY DO WE CALL WASHED RIND CHEESE STINKY CHEESE?
Like mentioned, one of the key characteristics of a washed rind is its odour, that can be more or less prominent depending on the cheese. So our way of describing this delicious type of cheese has come to be - stinky! 
Try a delicious, Australian made stinky cheese in our latest Therapy Box you can find here
 
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