Today is my granddaughter’s 3rd birthday!! Yesterday she and Daddy dropped by for a visit and we had fun celebrating with the shop ‘animals’. At one point she and I were looking at the cheese and I was answering the question on each.. cow?..goat?..sheep? It was during this that the reality seemed odd. Several cheeses were actually years older than her!
Aging – also known as ‘ripening’ or ‘affinage’ – is a crucial part of the flavor outcome of cheese, and has (presumably by trial and error) been a part of the process since the dawn of cheese-making.
The process of maturation incorporates and depends on the action and natural chemical interaction of several components. Bacteria and enzymes of the milk; rennet; added mold or yeast; and environmental flora…just to name a few. The duration is dependent on the type of cheese, the desired outcome, and the proper control and forecasting of the cheese-maker. It is true art and science combined.
Age does have it’s limitations though. If taken beyond it’s ideal or ‘prime’ (as determined by type and desired outcomes), it may actually be less palatable than when it reached it’s ‘magic’ moment in time.
So…appropos for our wine & cheese appetizer tonight… it will be a three year old cheddar to celebrate!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIKA!!