Understanding Soft-Ripened Cheese: A Comprehensive Guide

The world of cheese is vast and diverse, with each variety possessing unique characteristics that distinguish it from the rest. Among the many categories of cheese, soft-ripened cheeses stand out with their creamy texture and distinctive bloomy rind. This article delves into the intricacies of soft-ripened cheeses, exploring their defining features, production methods, and notable examples.

Defining Soft-Ripened Cheese

Soft-ripened cheeses are characterized by their soft, spreadable texture and the presence of a thin, white or cream-colored rind. This rind, often referred to as a bloomy rind, is edible and contributes to the cheese’s unique flavor profile.

Production Process

The production of soft-ripened cheeses involves several key steps:

  1. Milk Selection: The type of milk used, whether cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk, influences the final flavor and texture of the cheese.

  2. A specific mold culture, typically Penicillium candidum, camemberti, or glaucum, is added to the milk. This mold is responsible for the development of the bloomy rind.

  3. Coagulation: The milk is coagulated using rennet, an enzyme that causes the milk proteins to form curds.

  4. Cutting and Molding: The curds are cut into small pieces and placed in molds to drain the whey.

  5. Salting: The molded curds are salted to enhance flavor and inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria.

  6. Ripening: The cheeses are transferred to a controlled environment where they are left to ripen for several weeks or months. During this period, the mold grows on the surface of the cheese, creating the bloomy rind and contributing to the development of the cheese’s characteristic flavors.

Notable Examples

The world of soft-ripened cheeses encompasses a wide range of varieties, each with its own distinct flavor and texture. Some of the most well-known examples include:

  • Brie: A classic French cheese with a soft, creamy interior and a bloomy rind that develops a slightly pungent aroma as it ripens.

  • Camembert: Another French cheese similar to brie, but with a slightly firmer texture and a more pronounced mushroomy flavor.

  • Roquefort: A blue cheese made from sheep’s milk, featuring a distinctive blue-green mold that imparts a sharp, salty flavor.

  • Gorgonzola: An Italian blue cheese with a creamy texture and a slightly sweeter flavor than Roquefort.

  • Saint-André: A triple-crème cheese with a soft, buttery texture and a bloomy rind that develops a slightly tangy flavor as it ripens.

Flavor Profile

Soft-ripened cheeses are known for their diverse flavor profiles, ranging from mild and buttery to pungent and earthy. The specific flavor of a cheese depends on factors such as the type of milk used, the mold culture, and the ripening period.

Serving Suggestions

Soft-ripened cheeses are versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways:

  • As a Spread: Spread on crackers, bread, or fruit for a simple and satisfying snack.

  • On a Cheese Plate: Pair with other cheeses, such as hard cheeses or blue cheeses, to create a balanced and flavorful cheese plate.

  • In Salads: Crumble or slice soft-ripened cheeses over salads to add a creamy texture and rich flavor.

  • In Sandwiches: Use soft-ripened cheeses as a flavorful addition to sandwiches, grilled cheese, or paninis.

  • In Cooking: Incorporate soft-ripened cheeses into sauces, soups, and casseroles to enhance their richness and creaminess.

Soft-ripened cheeses are a culinary delight, offering a wide range of flavors and textures that can elevate any meal or snack. Their unique production process, involving the introduction of mold cultures and a controlled ripening period, results in cheeses with distinctive bloomy rinds and complex flavor profiles. Whether enjoyed on their own or incorporated into various culinary creations, soft-ripened cheeses are a testament to the artistry and diversity of the cheesemaking tradition.

A soft-ripened cheese’s creamy texture

Cheese ages by being exposed to air. Ageing soft-ripened cheeses allows the rind to get slightly darker while the paste stays creamy. They are not to be confused with hard cheese and pressed cheese, which are either aged to acquire a firmer consistency or placed in a cheese press to eliminate moisture and accelerate the process of hardening.

Notable soft-ripened cheeses include brie and camembert.

Soft-ripened cheese’s bloomy rind

The ivory rind that covers soft-ripened cheeses is made of an edible mold known as penicillium. Because of the color difference, you may have assumed that mold was exclusive to blue cheeses. However, penicillium, the fungus that causes cheese to mold, comes in a variety of forms. Penicillium camemberti is most frequently used for soft-ripened cheese, but Penicillium roqueforti and certain other categories also bloom on blue cheese.

1-Minute Cheese Class: SOFT-RIPENED CHEESES


What do you mean by ripened cheese?

What is the difference between ripened and unripened cheese? Natural cheeses are made by making milk coagulate, using either rennet or acid. As their name indicates, ripened cheeses are then further matured to develop a stronger taste and an ideal texture.

What are the examples of interior ripened cheese?

The texture of these cheeses will vary from soft to firm depending on fat and moisture content. Moisture content does not exceed 46%. Examples of internal mold-ripened cheeses include blue, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton.

What are examples of hard ripened cheese?

Hard cheeses include Cheddar, Cheshire, Derby, Gloucester, and Leicester (British), Cantal (French), Friesian and Leiden (Netherlands), Graviera and Kefalotiri (Greece), Manchego, Idiazabal, Roncal, and Serena (Spain), Sâo Jorge (Azores, Portugal), and Ras (Egypt).

What is ripening a cheese?

Ripening (or maturing) is the period during which the inside of the cheese is transformed through the biochemical action of the bacterial flora contained in the cheese. This is the crucial stage in which the consistency, aroma, flavor and, if desired, the rind of the cheese develop (fresh curd cheeses and process cheeses are not ripened).

What are some examples of ripe cheese?

There is no restriction within the category as to milk type, texture, moisture content, method of ripening, or age. Examples include: Monterey Jack, Dry Jack, Brick Cheese, Brick, Muenster, Colby, and Teleme.

Why do some cheeses ripen internally?

This is because the fungi used are more biochemically active than the starter bacteria. Where the ripening occurs is largely dependent on the type of cheese: some cheeses are surface ripened by moulds, such as Camembert and Brie; and some are ripened internally, such as Stilton.

What is soft ripened cheese?

Soft-ripened refers to the type of rind on a specific style of cheese, the texture of the cheese and how the cheese is ripened (or aged). Cheeses in the soft-ripened category are also referred to as bloomy rind cheeses . Soft-ripened cheeses have a thin, white or cream-colored rind that is soft and edible and sometimes a little fuzzy.

Leave a Comment