Milk’s leap toward immortality has just gotten a whole lot bigger. Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia have discovered what some are calling the fountain of youth for cheese – a special, all-natural veneer that significantly increases the lifespan of cheeses.
The miracle coating consists of rosemary oil, oregano oil, and chitosan, which is a by-product of crustacean shells(!). The thin film covers the cheese and prevents fungal activity and spoilage. Cheesemakers usually use wax seals or a combination of anti-fungal chemicals like primaricin and polyvinyl acetate to protect their cheeses, but these do not last as long and can negatively affect the flavor of the cheese. This new discovery is an all-natural alternative and adds a nice flavor of the cheese; a panel of 100 taste-testers gave the coated cheeses very high scores. Many of them reported to especially like the extra odors and flavors of rosemary and oregano that the coating added to the cheese.
Chelo González, a professor at the Institute for Food Engineering for Development at the University, led the team of researchers who made the discovery. She explains why cheeses usually go bad and why this new coating using all natural materials works so much better:
“The most common causes of deterioration are excessive surface dehydration and the growth of micro-organisms such as fungus or yeasts. Essential oils from oregano and rosemary have high antimicrobial activity and so help to prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria on the cheese.”
This coating was originally developed for soft cheeses that go bad more easily, but upon further research, the team discovered that it also works well for deterring fungi growth on aged cheeses as well. The oils when combined prevent bacterial activity on the cheese that can enter during the aging process if there are any cracks or fissures.
We are not yet sure where this incredible all natural coating will go, but if it means keeping our cheeses fresh longer, it’s got to be a winner.Feature Photo via Science Daily