For the Love of Bloomy Rind Cheese
...And Can You Eat the Brie Cheese Rind?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
While chèvre may be the most popular fresh goat cheese, when it comes to aged goat cheese, my favorite is a mouth-watering bloomy rind cheese. Not only are these amazingly flavorful and fairly easy to make, but they also don’t require much in the way of cheese aging equipment. They just need a little tending to during the first week or two of aging in order for that beautiful bloomy rind to grow.
Brie is one of the most popular cheeses and by far the most well-known of the bloomy rind cheeses (also referred to as surface-ripened cheeses), but there are literally hundreds of different varieties you can make (or buy). Often the size and shape of the final cheese are what differentiates it from another similarly made variety, in part because the amount of bloomy surface area in relation to the cheesy paste under the rind makes this cheese age differently. But the amount of rennet used and the additional ingredients you might add also account for why there are so many types to choose from.
Brie itself is traditionally made in a larger, flatter wheel — usually at least 14 inches in diameter. Camembert, on the other hand, is often made in a smaller wheel with a taller height. These are both fully renneted cheeses meaning they use a fair amount of rennet with a short coagulation time. In contrast, bloomy rind cheeses such as Sainte-Maure or Selles-sur-Cher are rennet-assisted cheeses, meaning they use just a drop or two of rennet but with a longer coagulation time.
Another factor that makes for the huge variety of bloomy rind cheeses is the addition of ingredients such as ash, paprika, herbs, or even mushrooms during the make. And while most of the more commonly known bloomy rind cheeses use Pencilium candidum to form the rind, there are other ingredients such as Geotrichum candidum that may be used instead of or in addition to this common white mold powder.
If you’re new to making bloomy rind cheese, here’s a great recipe for you to start with:
- goat milk (pasteurized recommended)
- mesophilic culture
- Penicilium candidum
- non-chlorinated or distilled water
- non-iodized salt
- 1-gallon pot with lid
- cheese thermometer
- measuring spoons and measuring cup
- long knife
- skimmer (or other slotted spoon)
- cheese form or basket
- draining rack (can just use a cookie sheet with a cooling rack topped with a sheet of sanitized plastic needlepoint canvas)
- aging container (see suggestion in the recipe)
- aging refrigerator (see the tip in the recipe)
- HEAT: Heat one gallon of pasteurized milk in pot to 70 degrees F.
- CULTURE & RIPEN: Sprinkle ⅛ tsp mesophilic culture and 1/32 tsp Pencilium candidum on the surface of the milk. Let sit for a minute or two to rehydrate and then stir in as you continue heating to 90 degrees. Cover and let “ripen” for one hour.
- COAGULATE: Dilute ¼ tsp of liquid rennet in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water and then stir gently into ripened milk. Cover pot and let sit for one hour.
- CUT: Cut the curd vertically in one-inch slices and allow it to sit for 30-40 minutes.
- SCOOP: Gently ladle the curds into cheese molds or baskets, filling as full as you possibly can (they will settle to about half the volume you started with).
- DRAIN: Let the curds drain for an hour or two and then flip as soon as the cheese can be handled. Continue draining for about 24 hours, flipping at least two or three more times.
- SALT: Remove the cheese from the basket or form and sprinkle liberally with non-iodized salt on all sides.
- DRY: Place the salted wheels of cheese on a draining rack and continue to flip and let them dry for another day or two at room temperature.
- AGE: Once the cheese is done releasing whey, you can put it in an aging container (a container with an inverted lid and a sanitized plastic needlepoint sheet works well) and place that in an aging refrigerator for about two weeks. (Tip: a dorm-sized refrigerator set to its warmer temperature setting will do the trick!) Continue flipping it every day or two so that it’s getting enough airflow to begin developing its bloomy rind.
- WRAP: Once the white rind has bloomed all over, you can wrap the cheese in cheese paper (I like the mold-ripened cheese paper that is two-ply with wax on one side available at many cheesemaking supply websites). Age it for another one to four weeks. How long you age it is a function of how big the wheel is, how humid your container is, and how ripe you like it to be. For a milder, pastier cheese, eat after just one week of aging. If you like a more pungent, almost liquid center to your cheese, wait longer. The trick is to check on it every now and then and see how squishy it’s getting and eat it when it’s at the ripeness that you like.
And in answer to the question, “Can you eat the brie cheese rind?” Of course! But only if you want to.
Originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.