What accounts for the different shapes of cheeses; why is cheddar rectangular while brie and provolone are round?
#117235. Asked by star_gazer. (Sep 01 10 7:13 PM)
Traditional rinded Cheddars will always be cylindrical, rindless Cheddars can be either, but most are rectangular. Why? Because you can store more in a given space and you get less waste when producing rectangular shapes for retail. |
For cheese such as Brie or Camembert the shape is very important, particularly if the production method is traditional.
Thickness is very important as it directly effects the rate of salt uptake whether dry or brine salting but there is an even more important reason.
Ripening, when the surface mold is working from the surface on all the surfaces you see a greater tendency for the cheese to break down near the edges. If the cheese was square or rectangular the surface flora would have three planes from which to break down the corner of the cheese body than the two on a cylindrical cheese.
Many smear-ripened cheeses are made in a rectangular form and it is the corners which are most vulnerable to over-ripening, usually not a problem. It is when things get off balance the problems show up on the corners.
The mighty Swiss cheeses were made with adjustable band type hoops so that they could be adjusted during pressing to ensure the correct thickness was achieved.
The thickness was the key to even salt uptake more so than the diameter. I have had experience making cheese with eyes; when we moved to making them in rectangular shapes for the convenience of our cutting operations we noted that there were less eyes located in the corner regions.
Dutch cheese have traditionally been wheels or semi-spherical for much the same reason. If you have sharp corners they are areas that tend to become over-salted, the radiused corners of Dutch cheese are a good solution.
Round is strong if you need it to be as in the case of Cheddar, less sharp edges are good if you are making soft ripened cheese such as Camembert.
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