This is often a time of year when we splurge on specialty foods, one of which are stinky cheeses – so let’s smell our way around the origins of some of these odorous treats.
Just four ingredients are needed to make cheese: milk, salt, rennet… and microbes. The earliest cheeses were made around 7,000 years ago, largely by accident.
Traditional cheeses can include dozens of types of microbes which play a big part in how a cheese tastes and smells. Once it has done its job, the majority of this bacteria dies naturally, but it can be inclined to survive in some Alpine and hard cheeses such as emmental, gruyere, and pecorino — contributing to their flavors.
There are microbes known as smear bacteria that are responsible for some of the cheese shop’s stinkier products like münster and limburger.
In fact, washed-rind cheeses have an odor like smelly feet because the bacteria they have, Brevibacter, can also be found on unwashed human skin.
At the next social gathering you attend, when you are presented with an array of stinky cheese treats, you will be able to appreciate their pungent odor and flavor, knowing just how microbes played a role in both.
For more information on microbes and cheese, read our classic blog post.
If you are interested in learning more about your health and your microbiome come check out our clinical microbiome test SmartGut™.