Cheese is a unique product because the tastes and textures found even within individual rounds produced from the same batch can vary noticeably, but also because as a cheese ages and matures the taste and texture of that cheese will change. When cheeses are aged with care this process can significantly enhance a cheese, but when this process is done poorly it can lead to an inferior product, or even a putrid moldy mess.
At Formaggio Kitchen great care is taken when aging all the cheeses, not just in the cheese caves found in the cellar but also in the day-to-day care of fresh softer goat cheese. An excellent example of this (that can currently be found in the shop) is the Cornilly. The three cheeses pictures below are all the same kind of cheese, but are all different ages.
As you can see the eldest of the cheeses on the left has begun to develop a slight rind and has also lost a lot of mass due to water evaporating from the cheese.
This process has left the cheese harder, with an almost chalky texture. The flavor has also become subtle, in a very appealing way. Initially I thought the youngest of the three would be my favorite – but to my surprise this elder cheese was the winner hands down. Something about the slightly salty flavor won me over.
This middle cheese does not have any rind to speak of but has started to lose some of its mass. The texture is not at all chalky – but definitely sliceable while still being soft enough to spread. The flavor is mildly vegetal and it does not have the salty notes of the eldest cheese.
The youngest cheese is only a week or two old. It’s most obviously the largest having not had time to loose any mass to water evaporating. This cheese seems even slightly softer than the most common domestic logs of fresh chevre, and to my surprise my palate finds that it has the most assertive flavor of the three ages.
These three ages of cheese illustrate what knowledge and care can do for the life of a fresh cheese. Instead of aging into a compromised, decrepit knob of cheese the eldest cheese is enhanced and can offer a lot to any taster that’s willing to trust the idiom “age before beauty”.