What's The Difference Between Bloomy and Washed Rind Cheeses?
Both are surfaced ripened cheeses but different. There is an exponential amount of information to know about cheese and cheese classification. Go to any cheese counter or crack open a guide to cheese and you will be inundated with endless choices, varieties, and classifications of cheese.
- What cheese belongs to which grouping?
- When is it acceptable to eat the rind of a cheese?
- What’s the difference between a Parmesan and a Pecorino?
Lately, what’s been constantly nagging at me is the difference between a bloomy rind and washed rind cheese. I’m sure you are all wondering the same thing, so I’ve decided to settle matter before it becomes a widespread concern.
Both bloomy rind and wash rind cheeses are in the soft-ripened category, yet they go through vastly different ripening processes.
Bloomy rinds (such as a Brie or Camembert) have a growth of soft, white mold on the surface of the cheese.
Washed rind cheeses (like an Epoisses or a Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk) have a unique orange hue and firmer outer rind. I’ll explain how the two come to have their own distinctive characteristics.
Bloomy Rind cheeses are surface ripened. This means that the surrounding fluffy white mold encourages the proper ripening of the interior paste of the cheese.
During the cheese making process, the outside of the cheese is coated with Penicillium candidum, which is a specific mold culture that forms into a “bloomy” edible crust. As the flavor-producing candidum mold begins to break down, a creaminess spreads throughout the interior of the cheese, giving it an optimal flavor and smooth texture.
Washed Rind cheeses, on the other hand, are immersed into a salt water brine (or sometimes seeped in wine, brandy, oil, or beer). These liquid solutions cultivate the growth of a specific orange-colored bacterium which similarly flavors the interior of the cheese.
The bacteria explains why you can spot a washed-rind cheese by its significantly brighter orange hue. So, both bloomy and washed cheeses are surfaced-ripened, yet they go through different production processes to achieve the final result.
Bloomy rind cheeses are generally creamy and rich in flavor—almost like a dessert— while a washed rind cheese tastes hearty, robust, and sometimes even a bit meaty. Taste and flavor depends on what specific type of cheese you are buying, as well as how long the cheese has been aged.
Have you ever cut into a bloomy rind cheese and watched it’s inner paste slowly ooze out?
Well, this is because the exterior mold culture feeds on the protein of the cheese, giving it an extremely creamy texture that sometimes leaks out. When serving a bloomy rind, I would suggest putting a tray underneath it and maybe even using a spoon to scoop out the soft contents.
Washed rind cheeses have a harder outer surface with an even, semi-soft paste on the inside. If you choose one with a particularly rigid and sandy rind, it is probably a result of the leftover salt crystals that come from the bathing process during the maturation of the cheese.
However, when you are selecting a washed cheese, make sure that the outer surface isn’t cracked.
When To Eat Them
Some cheeses improve with age, yet tread carefully with a bloomy rind—you don’t want it to acquire too much moisture and become watery overtime. As a general rule-of-thumb, I typically attempt to eat as much of my bloomy cheese as possible after I cut into it on the first serving.
You can be a little bit more flexible with a washed rind cheese and rewrap it and put it back in the fridge after one serving. Keep in mind that these cheeses can get very smelly and the longer you let them sit, the stronger the aroma. For the record, I love stinky cheeses.
Examples of Bloomy Rind Cheeses
Examples of Washed Rind Cheeses