These cheeses ripen from the outside toward the center.When very young, they are firm and cakey and have little flavor. As they mature, they gradually become softer and, when fully ripe, may be actually runny. The ripening starts just inside the rind and spreads to the center.
Soft-ripened cheeses include two categories: mold-ripened and washed-rind or bacteria-ripened.
Brie and Camembert from France are ripened by mold.They are made in flat, round shapes and are covered with a crust that varies in color from white to straw. When ripe, these cheeses are creamy and flavorful, but they develop a sharp odor of ammonia when overripe.
Many rich double- and triple-crème cheeses fall into this category, including Explorateur, Brillat-Savarin, St.André, Boursault, and Boursin (which may be flavored with pepper or with garlic and herbs). Chaource is similar in texture and appearance to a double-crème cheese but is actually closer in composition to Brie, having a fat content of 45 to 50 percent.
Liederkranz, made in the United States, and its Belgian cousin, Limburger, are ripened by bacteria rather than mold, but they also become softer as they age.They are widely misunderstood because of their aroma. Actually, when not overripe, these cheeses are not nearly as strong as most people expect, and they have a pleasant, smooth texture.
Epoisse from Burgundy, France, is one of the great soft-ripened washed-rind cheeses. Small cheeses are packed individually in round wooden boxes.They are so soft when ripe that they are left in their boxes and served with a spoon.
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