All About Bloomy Rind Cheeses
Learn about bloomy rind cheeses and their incredible, edible outer surfaces.
Bloomy rind, or surface ripened, is the term used for cheeses that ripen from the outside in and have soft, edible rinds. Bloomy rind cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, tend to have buttery or earthy flavors and creamy, luscious interiors.
The fuzzy rind found on most bloomy rind cheeses is the result of molds, such as Penicillium candidum, geotrichum candidum or Penicillium camemberti, and yeast being introduced to the surface of the cheese during the cheese-making process. The mold and yeast metabolizes the fat and protein of the cheese from the outside in, resulting in an extremely creamy and gooey interior texture and earthy, mushoomy flavors. Because these types of cheeses ripen from the outside in, they are often softer and runnier near the edges and more firm in the middle. The longer a bloomy rind cheese is left to age, the creamier its center and the more complex its flavor.
Perhaps the two most popular surface-ripened cheeses are Brie and Camembert. What's the difference between the two? While the two are similar in appearance and taste, there are differences that set the two apart. Both hail from France--Brie is made in Île-de-France while Camembert is from Normandy.
In fact, your favorite Brie or Camembert that you buy from your local supermarket is not a real Brie or Camembert but are cheeses inspired by the real thing. Real Brie and Camembert are AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheeses and must be crafted in their respective cities in France with unpasteurized milk. Raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days are not allowed to be sold in the United States, and Brie and Camembert do not reach that quota. Instead, in the United States you'll find Brie and Camembert-style cheeses made with pasteurized milk.
Another difference between the two is fat content. Cream is added during production to Brie, resulting in a higher fat content and therefore a creamier texture than Camembert. The last difference is size. You'll typically see Brie sold by the slice because the wheels are so large, while Camembert wheels are only about 4.5 inches in diameter.
There are many bloomy rind cheeses beyond Brie and Camembert. Some of our favorites include Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, Jasper Hill Farm Harbison, Dorothy's Keep Dreaming, Fromager d'Affinois and Sequatchie Cove Creamery Dancing Fern.
One theory of the origins of bloomy rind cheeses lies hundreds of years ago in Normandy, France. It is thought that because there was no refrigeration, to avoid waste people would mold their thick, soured milk into disks and store them in cold, dark basements. The mold of the cellars was attracted to the acidic, soured milk and over time formed bloomy rinds on the curds.
Pair soft ripened cheeses with a bubbly white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, which cuts through the creamy flavor with a fizzy kick. Discover for yourself the delicious taste of
bloomy rind cheeses! There are so many different varieties available from all over the world, making discovering your favorites a delicious adventure.