We've just added 'Minger', a Scottish washed-rind cheese to our product list so we thought we'd talk a little about this type of cheese and some famous varieties. Chances are you've come across a really ripe, smelly cheese at some point, well chances are it's a washed-rind cheese. This type of cheese is famous for its pungency as the washing in brine or alcohol, or a mixture of both allows the growth of good bacteria, which gives the cheese its orange or pink rind and pungent aroma.
Washed-rind cheeses mature from the outside in, but instead of using mould to ripen, like Brie or Camembert, washed-rind cheeses use bacteria, such as Brevibacterium linens, coryneform bacteria and others such as micrococci. The growth of the bacteria is helped by washing in brine or a brine alcohol solution. For example, the French cheese Epoisses is washed in a mixture of brine and Marc de Bourgoyne, Scottish cheese Strathearn is washed in a mixture of brine and ten year old single malt whisky and there are many more washed in a number of varieties of brine solutions.
Munster, one of the famous Alsatian cheeses was possibly the first washed-rind cheese and in the Alsace is where the washing of cheese rinds first developed. This process grew and spread further afield and cheesemakers started washing cheeses in solutions of cider, brandy, beer and wine to create the variety of washed-rinds we have today.