Usually when we think of moldy foods, we picture amonth-old loaf of bread forgotten in the back of arefrigerator. But some moldy foods can be quitedelicious. For instance, many cheeses owe their sharpflavor to molds. The making of any cheese isessentially a process of limited, controlledspoilage.
In effect, a mold partly digests, or rots the cheese. The molds used to ripen cheese are not themolds that would naturally develop on the cheese over time, but are specially-produced molds.During the process of aging any mold-ripened cheese, fats and proteins are broken down intostrong smelling molecules. These molecules give mold-ripened cheese its particularly strongodor and taste. A bluish-green mold helps ripen blue cheese, giving it its name, aroma andcolor.
In order to age blue cheese, a cheese maker injects the mold into the cheese. Cheeses like bluecheese that are ripened from within are frequently washed or brushed to remove undesirablemicroorganisms which might interfere with the activity of the ripening mold inside. While bluecheese is mold-ripened from the inside, soft, pungent cheeses like Camembert and Brie areripened from the outside with a coat of a white mold whose enzymes slowly penetrate thecheese and transform it from a chalky, bland solid, into the custard-like, creamy treat cheesefanciers love.
Of course, eating most moldy foods is not a good idea, but eating cheese that has ripened dueto a special molding process can be a delectable experience.