October 9, 2013

National Moldy Cheese Day

“Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.” - Clifton Fadiman

It's National Moldy Cheese Day!

Moldy cheese is certainly an acquired taste, but if you happen to be one of those people who love the distinct pungent tang of a blue cheese than today is your day!

Cheese with mold is made by either adding or injecting cultures like Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum into the cheese (or curds before processing). The cheese is punctured with tiny holes to allow air in which helps the mold develop, grow, and eventually spread. Familiar moldy cheeses include blue, Roquefort (a crumbly and moist sheep's milk blue cheese with green colored mold made in France; only cheeses aged in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon can be called "Roquefort"); Gorgonozola (a salty cow's milk blue cheese made in Italy; it can only be made in certain provinces to be called "Gorgonzola"), and Stilton (my favorite: a crumbly, creamy cow's milk blue cheese that may only be made in the English counties of Derbyshire, Leicestshire, and Nottinghamshire to be called "Stilton"). As you'll have noticed, many of these cheeses have a protected design of origin.

But did you know that both Brie and Camembert are part of the moldy cheese family, too (those white rinds on them are mold - totally edible, by the way!)? They're developed using Penicillium camemberti.

And now you're all the wiser, foodies!

If your cheese isn't intentionally supposed to be green, blue, or gray, but still has some growth happening, fear not: it's still edible! For some Amur-KAH'ns this concept might be worrisome, but when I lived in England we did it all the time. As long as it's a hard cheese (think cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, Asiago, etc.), just cut about an inch around and under the mold making sure not to touch the mold with your knife (as to prevent cross-contamination), discard the bad bits, and enjoy the rest of your cheese!

Happy National Moldy Cheese Day!