Andean Ash Cheese
A very interesting cheese, for its looks and taste are quite unique, and have a special effect on people. What’s the story behind this whitish, fluffy, fuzzball anyway?
Bloomy Rinds are known as surface-ripened cheeses because the rind, which is edible by the way, is covered in a “bloom” of microbiota, mainly, the mold Penicillum candidum or the fungus Geotricum candidum. These lively creatures help form a rind around the cheese and allow the cheese to develop its central creamy texture and fabulous earthy, mushroom-like flavor. You may be familiar with some of these: Camembert or Brie are both bloomy rind cheeses.
La Verde Oveja does a unique presentation of a bloomy rind that we call Andean Ash. It is fashioned in a small log form and utilizes the age-old technique of adding ash to the outer surface of the cheese that helps the bloom form. This looks like a black line under the rind and might have a black vein running through the cheese. It is perfectly safe to eat and makes a beautiful presentation on a cheese board.
It is said that Bloomy Rinds may have originated in Normandy, France where the women would add salt to small disks of soured raw milk before storing them in cellars. The region´s molds and fungi would be attracted to the sour milk´s acidic environment and “bloom” away on the surface of the cheese, giving way to the now very much appreciated Camembert cheese.
The ripening of this cheese will mainly depend on moisture content. High moisture content will allow for continued breakdown making the cheese soft and spreadable, whereas a drier environment will make the cheese more dense but still flavorful. In any case, the best way to enjoy your bloomy rind is to serve it at room temperature, and miss out on the rind´s delicious mushroom-y flavor!
It is important to note that as the cheese ages it will display small brown spots, which is expected. But the cheese may have gone bad if the spots become larger or become pink, or if the rind has a powdery texture, or the cheese develops an ammonia smell.
From the time of purchase your Andean Ash will last about 3-4 weeks in your refrigerator wrapped in either wax paper or beeswax wraps. As it ages the center will become creamier in texture and more nutty in flavor.
We hope this information was useful and that you continue to enjoy La Verde Oveja sheep milk cheeses.
For information on cheese storage information, check out our article “How do I store my Sheep Cheeses?”