How to Get the Most Out of Your Soft Ripened Cheese
At Marin French Cheese Co. we want to make sure you are getting the most out of your soft-ripened cheese. For optimal enjoyment, it’s helpful to understand the life of your cheese, flavor and texture development, and storage recommendations. Here are some tips for you!
Bloomy rind cheeses like our brie or camembert style cheeses are kept in a humidity and temperature controlled environment as they form their iconic white fluffy rinds during the weeks they spend in the aging room. Our historic Petite Breakfast is a fresh brie style cheese that skips this aging process, which is why it does not have a rind. Golden Gate goes through a similar aging process as the bloomy rind cheeses, but gets multiple washes in brine, which scores the outside of the cheese and encourages the growth of cultures that create its distinctive golden red color. While there are some differences in process, the life cycle of the cheese is similar for all of our Marin French Cheese Co. artisan cheeses.
Cheese Life and When to Enjoy
Soft ripened cheeses start out as tightly knit curds formed into a wheel through the use of a mold and are then placed gently on to aging racks. The flavor of the young cheese is tangy, milky, and mild - like cheese curds. That fresh curd taste gets richer as the cultures develop, the texture softens, and the rind forms as the cheese ages from the outside in over a 2 week period. However, it’s important to remember that the aging doesn’t stop when the cheese gets wrapped and ready for sale.
Marin French Cheese Co. cheeses are wrapped in a special cellophane layer -- or dome for our Supreme -- that is breathable and allows the cheese to continue ripening even after you take it home. Discover where in its lifecycle you most like your cheese and enjoy it according to your flavor and textural preference.
Look for the “Best By Date” sticker on your cheese to help you determine where it is in its life cycle and the corresponding flavors and textures. If you enjoy a more mild cheese, go ahead and eat it at a younger age. If you like more robust flavors and gooeir textures, keep your soft ripened cheese in the fridge until it is closer to its best by date. “When to enjoy” is our suggestion, but it will be different for everyone.
Regardless of the age of your cheese, let it come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before enjoying. You will not get the full range of nuanced flavor if you eat it straight from the fridge. Younger cheeses will be easier to cut into wedges that you can place on a cheese board. For those that prefer a riper wheel and want to enjoy their cheese right up to -- or even a bit past -- its best by date, we recommend serving the wheel whole with its own cheese knife. And don’t forget, the rind is completely edible and offers concentrated flavors of its own.
Storing Your Cheese
To get the most out of your artisan cheese, keep it in its original wrapping in your refrigerator until ready to enjoy. Once the cheese has been cut into, it will stop ripening and should be enjoyed within the next couple of days. While our wrap is designed to allow the cheese to keep aging while intact, its breathable nature can make it too fragile for use in re-wrapping. Plastic wrap can be used in a pinch, but the lack of air can bring unwanted moisture that will make your cheese spoil faster. If the original wrapper is not intact, we recommend using cheese paper, wax paper, or reusable wax wraps to save your leftover cheese.
If you feel the cheese is past its ideal flavor and texture, it can be cooked with and added to recipes for an extra depth of flavor. If you enjoy your cheese a little younger when eaten by itself, a ripe piece of cheese can be added to sauces, soups, or combined with other mild cheeses for endless delicious recipes.
Enjoy a ripe cheese but questioning if it’s still good to eat? If you find any brightly colored mold, a gray or flaky rind, a strong smell of ammonia, or a very bitter taste, it’s time to toss the cheese as it’s come to the end of its life.
Can you freeze brie or camembert style cheeses? We don’t recommend freezing soft ripened cheeses unless you are going to be baking or adding to a recipe. While much of the delicious flavor will remain intact, the texture of the paste and rind will start to break down for a less than ideal eating experience.
To get the most out of your cheese, pay attention to its best by date, enjoy it how and when you like it, and properly store and serve it. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to our team of experts at Marin French Cheese Co. and we will do our best to help!