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May 21, 2010

A cheese culture is essentially a specifically identified type of  bacteria used in the production of the cheese. One of the many factors that determine a cheese’s flavour, aroma and texture is down to the culture or combination of cultures used during the making and maturing process. Some cheeses owe their style and character very much to a particular type of culture although many other factors are involved.

Penicillium Roqueforti

P. roqueforti is responsible for the blue-green veins in some classic cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton and Gorgonzola. Said to have originated from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in Italy after the mold was discovered on some bread left in a local cave. Pretty much any any blue vein style cheese owes its existence to this particular culture.

Penicillium Camemberti

P. camemberti is a species of fungus predominantly used in Brie and Camembert style cheeses. This culture causes the formation of a distinctive white bloomy rind which usually develops within a few days after the cheese is made.

Penicillium Candidum

This is really a synonym of P. camemberti. Along with P. caseicolum, it is a trade name commonly used in the dairy industry for white variants of P. camemberti.

Geotrichum Candidum

G. candidum is a yeast culture that also causes the formation of bloomy white rinds – it is often used in conjunction with P. Camemberti. Surface ripened cheeses made from goat’s milk often use this culture as the rind that forms tends to attach itself to the cheese a lot better than P. Camemberti.

Brevibacterium Linens

B. linens is an orange-pigmented bacteria used in smear ripened cheeses. Cheeses washed in a B. linens solution develop a very distinctive aroma and orange / reddish rind. Munster-géromé and Port-du-Salut are two examples of washed orange rind cheeses.

Propionibacterium Shermanii

This is the bacteria that causes the distinctive holes to form in Swiss style cheeses such as Emmental. As part of a fermenting process that occurs, CO2 bubbles are formed creating the ‘eyes’ in the cheese but it’s also responsible for the development of nutty and sweet qualities. Its full name is a somewhat convoluted Propionobacteria freudenreichii subsp. shermanii


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