Bloomy rind or mold-ripened cheese refers to a family of cheeses that have a white, velveteen exterior (which is also called a rind in cheese speak). Bloomy rind cheeses are characterized by their creamy texture, and tend to be buttery and slightly earthy in flavor. If you love rich, unctuous and gooey cheese, chances are you’re a fan of the bloomy rind family!
Bloomy rind cheeses get their name from the fact that the rind literally blooms on the outside of the cheese as it ages in the cave. The rind is made of mold – strains of mold and yeast actually – that colonize the exterior of the cheese and ripen the cheese from the outside in. This mold and yeast begins to metabolize the fat and the protein present in the young cheese, breaking it down and resulting in a gooey, creamy texture. If you’ve ever cut open a wheel of bloomy rind cheese and noticed that the middle of the cheese is a bit firmer, but closer to the rind is gooey and runny, you’ve seen a bloomy rind cheese ripening in real time! All bloomy rind cheese begins its life as a firm, almost rubbery-textured thing. As time passes and the magical mold does its work, that squidgy, rubbery texture gives way to the luscious, gooey, and spreadable texture that we all go crazy for.
It is imperative to note that the mold found on the rinds of bloomy rind cheese is 100% edible and 100% delicious! In fact, it adds a crucial element of flavor, so when eating a bloomy rind cheese don’t leave the rind behind! The mushroomy funk (which sometimes can cross over into a cauliflower or broccoli-esque flavor) of bloomy rind cheeses can be attributed to the rind, and the millions of microbes that are hard at work there.