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Can I Ripen Cheese at Home?


Q
I recently bought a cheese I like called Delice de Bourgogne, but this one is much too firm and underripe, not soft and runny the way I love it. Is it still possible to mature the cheese at home so it becomes more gooey?
A
In short—sure! The long answer gets a little complicated, involving topics such as “affinage,” “distribution chain,” and “mismongering” (okay, I made that last one up).

If your cheese is a wedge cut from a larger wheel, it’s going to make further maturation challenging, as oxidation occurs from exposure to air, changing the aging process—akin to uncorking a bottle of wine.

However, all is not lost! You can still attempt to ripen it. Try unwrapping the cheese and covering the cut surface with parchment paper so it can breathe without drying out the paste. Put it inside the refrigerator in a container with holes punched in the lid. Every couple of days, flip the cheese over so the moisture doesn’t collect all on one side. If a week passes and the texture of the cheese isn’t breaking down (a.k.a. “more gooey”), best to enjoy as is.

On your next cheese run, ask your cheesemonger to help pick a cheese to your liking. In lieu of a monger, if you feel it give under light pressure when you pick it up, that’s a good sign. Smell it, too. If it’s unripe, you won’t smell much, but if it’s overripe, it’ll smell strongly of ammonia. If it’s in between these extremes, that’s another clue that the cheese is nicely ripened.

Feature Photo Credit: Murray’s Cheese

Emiliano Lee

Emiliano Lee is a veteran cheesemonger who recently moved to California to be the artisan market manager for Farmshop in Santa Monica; he is noted for championing an appreciation of domestic cheeses.