Behind the Rind: The Art of Cheese Aging

aged aged cheese aging cheese bleu blue celtic blue cheese aging how to age cheese

At The Cheese Wedge, we’re passionate about cheese in all its glorious forms. One of the most intriguing aspects of cheesemaking is the aging process. Aging cheese is a delicate art that transforms the flavours, textures, and complexities of cheese, creating the rich and diverse profiles that cheese lovers cherish. Join us as we take you behind the scenes to explore the fascinating world of cheese aging.

The Science and Art of Cheese Aging

Cheese aging, also known as affinage, involves carefully controlling the environment in which cheese matures. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years, depending on the type of cheese. Key factors that influence the aging process include:

Temperature and Humidity: Most cheeses are aged in cool, humid environments. The precise conditions vary for different cheeses but typically range from 10 to 15°C with 80-95% humidity. These conditions help develop the rind and prevent the cheese from drying out too quickly.

Microbial Activity: Bacteria, molds, and yeasts play crucial roles in developing a cheese’s flavour and texture. For example, Penicillium roqueforti is responsible for the blue veins in Roquefort, while surface-ripening bacteria contribute to the distinctive aromas of washed-rind cheeses like Époisses.

Time: The length of aging significantly impacts the cheese’s characteristics. Younger cheeses tend to be milder and creamier, while longer-aged cheeses develop more intense flavours and firmer textures. The aging period allows complex biochemical reactions to occur, breaking down proteins and fats into flavourful compounds.

Rind Development: The rind acts as a natural barrier, protecting the cheese while allowing it to breathe. Different cheeses develop different types of rinds, such as bloomy rinds (e.g., Brie), washed rinds (e.g., Limburger), and natural rinds (e.g., Parmigiano-Reggiano). Each rind type influences the cheese’s flavour and texture.

Notable Aged Cheeses at The Cheese Wedge

At The Cheese Wedge, we offer a curated selection of aged cheeses that showcase the remarkable results of the aging process. Here are some of our favourites:

Parmigiano-Reggiano: Known as the "King of Cheeses," this Italian classic is aged for a minimum of 12 months, with premium varieties aged up to 36 months. The extended aging process gives it a granular texture and an intense, nutty flavour with hints of caramel and a crystalline crunch.

Cheddar: One of the most versatile cheeses, cheddar can be aged for anywhere from a few months to several years. Our aged cheddars range from a sharp, tangy 1-year cheddar to a robust, crumbly 11-year cheddar, each with its own unique flavour profile. We also currently have in stock a 19 year old cheddar that is delightfully tangy!

Gruyère: This Swiss cheese is aged for at least 5 months, with some varieties aged for over a year. The aging process imparts a complex flavour, blending sweet, nutty, and slightly salty notes, along with a firm yet creamy texture. Try our Kaltbach Creamy for that rich complex flavour that melts in your mouth. 

Gouda: Traditional Dutch Gouda is aged anywhere from a few months to over a year. Young Gouda is mild and creamy, while aged Gouda, known as “Oude Kaas,” develops a hard texture with deep, caramelized flavours and a touch of sweetness like our Beemster XO that is aged for 26 months. 

Blue Cheese: Our selection of aged blue cheeses, such as Roquefort and Stilton, undergoes a meticulous aging process in specific conditions to develop their signature blue veins and robust, tangy flavours. These cheeses are aged for several months, allowing the molds to work their magic. Our Celtic Blue from Ireland is an unassertive blue with a nice balance and a sweet earthy blue veining, is aged for 2-3 months

The Art of Enjoying Aged Cheese

When it comes to enjoying aged cheeses, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few tips to enhance your tasting experience:

Pairing: Aged cheeses pair wonderfully with a variety of accompaniments. Try pairing them with fruits, nuts, honey, or artisan bread. For beverages, consider robust wines, craft beers, or even a smooth whisky to complement the cheese’s flavours.

Serving: Allow aged cheeses to come to room temperature before serving. This helps to fully appreciate their complex flavours and textures.

Savouring: Take your time to savour the cheese. Note the aromas, textures, and the way flavours evolve with each bite.

At The Cheese Wedge, we’re dedicated to bringing you the finest aged cheeses and sharing our knowledge and passion for this timeless culinary art. Visit us to explore our diverse selection and experience the exquisite results of the aging process firsthand.

Older Post