Think of some of the world’s most pungent smelling cheeses and you’re in the right category! While not all washed rinds are wildly stinky, some will have you reaching for your nose! Don’t be put off though, once tried we think you’ll be hooked! We’ve released some special 30th anniversary washed rinds, so delving into their sacred history seems only fitting! Prepare to be fascinated by the intricate processes cheesemakers used over hundreds of years to craft these cheeses. Today we’ll look at what washed rinds are, and next time we’ll look under the hood and show you how they are made.
Washed rind cheese originated in the abbeys of northern France and was made famous by 16th century monks. They used the process as a deliberate attempt to create a meaty flavour of cheese to be eaten during long periods of religious fasting where meat was not permitted. As cheeseoholics will know, (generally) the stinkier the cheese, the bolder and meatier the flavour!
SO, HOW DO YOU SPOT A WASHED RIND CHEESE?
Some washed rinds are mild in scent, so if the aroma isn’t a clear giveaway then you will likely be able to spot the distinctive hue of the cheese. The rind, which is the outer layer, turns firm and gritty as it matures and can go from a subtle peachy tone to a burnt orange-reddish colour that acts to protect the interior of the cheese. Once sliced into a moist, supple, creamy cheese paste will ooze out of the rind. (note: there are also a few hard cheeses in the category.)
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
You can experience it all in this category thanks to the variety of wash solutions and the range of cheeses used. There’s sweet, nutty and buttery all the way to earthy, yeasty, smokey, and intensely meaty. For example, the famous Italian cow’s milk Taleggio offers a yeasty pizza dough flavour, whilst the Swiss Gruyère offers intense savoury flavours reminiscent of a meaty beef broth.
WHY IS IT CALLED WASHED RIND?
Just as it sounds, it is called a washed rind because the cheese literally gets washed while it matures. A wash solution is made usually of salt-water brine which cheesemakers will then add other bacteria or moulds to in order to develop unique and interesting flavour profiles. Alcohol is also a common wash solution; in France utlising marc (brandy) and prodeminantly beer in the US. Cheesemakers all over the world get experimental with a range of beers, ciders, wines and spirits often dependent on what is local to their region.
We’ve experimented with our own as a gift to you all (and us)! Our 30th Anniversary washed rinds with Brown Brothers, Starward Whisky and Bridge Road Brewery are available at the Milawa Cheese Factory and can be found at select events and retailers throughout the year in extremely limited quantities! Come visit us and give them a try!