Happy Fromage Friday!
Let’s Get to Know the Fun Gi that’s All Up On Bijou
It’s Friday again, and I still have a fridge filled with soft goat cheeses. Are you sick of hearing about goat cheese? Well, first of all I have a lot more to say on the topic. Secondly, if you send me money or non-goat milk cheese then I’d be happy to feature a different cheese. The cheese ball is in your court, my friend. Anyway, little bijou here will not disappoint you. She’s a mini pasteurized goat cheese from Vermont Creamery, one of those gals that’s so easy to talk to it seems like she’s friends with everyone. Her dense, creamy curd is fresh and approachable, yet her downy rind and yeasty aromatics give her a little extra character. But there’s something else that makes bijou so special. and his name is Geotrichum Candidum and he’s a real fun guy (fungi).
Surface-ripened cheeses are those that ripen from the outside, creating an edible rind. Back in the old days of cheese making, molds and fungi, such as little Geo, were already present in the aging environment and naturally latched onto the cheese. Now, these bacteria are added by the cheese maker, either mixed straight into the curd or misted onto the outside prior to aging. Cheese makers and cheese agers (affineurs) work together in order to create the right environment that allows the molds and bacteria to flourish and grow into a perfect rind.
Geotrichum Candidum is a delicate little fungus that appears on almost all surface-ripened cheese during their early stages. He’s responsible for the white velvet rind that appears on cheese like little bijou here. While he’s a little a shy and easily out shined by other, more aggressive molds, he works well with others. He prevents P. Candidum (the white mold on the outside of brie and camembert) from overwhelming the rind and causing bitterness. He also creates a friendly, welcoming environment for B. Linens, the bacteria that lives on washed-rind cheese like Mont D’Or. In the right environment, Geotrichum feeds on the cheese from the outside, creating a soft and sexy wrinkled rind and beneath it a gooey layer called the “creamline.” A cheese ripened with the help of Geo will usually have a yeasty smell, like sourdough bread straight from the oven.
If you have fallen in love with these soft, cloud-like rinds then you have Geotrichum to thank. Spend an afternoon getting to know him and bijou a little better. Make it a party and invite some almond biscotti, a cup of floral tea, and a little raspberry rose jam. They’re the only friends you really need.
Provenance: Websterville, VT
Cost: $10 for two
Palate level: Beginner to intermediate
Profile: yeasty, creamy, fresh
Pairings: floral teas, fruity reds, tart jam
This post is in collaboration with Vermont Creamery.