Scary Cheese! A Saxelby Halloween Special

Tales of the World’s Weirdest… A Saxelby Halloween Special
We all love cheese. That is certain. But as cheese lovers we also have to embrace the sometimes scary sideshow world of cheese freaks and creatures that go along with eating it. This extra spooky edition of ‘This Week at Saxelby Cheese’ is devoted to the creepy, crawly and wonderful world of mites, microbes, and yes, maggots, that are part of the global patrimony of cheese!
Mites are everywhere – on our skin, in the dust in our houses, and on cheese rinds too! In France they’re referred to as ‘les petits amis, or les artisans’ which sounds much more endearing that the English version. What looks like a lot of innocuous dust on the shelf in a cheese cave is actually a living pile of cheese mites! Leave this dust alone for a bit and it will shift and move in search of more cheese. The cheese mites feast on the rind of the cheese, carving out pits and pockets as they go. They’re also totally harmless – just fun fodder for Halloween scary cheese stories!
It takes a really adventurous cheese lover (or a native Sardinian) to want to dig into a piece of this cheese! Casu Marzu, one of Sardinia’s traditional cheeses, is intentionally full of maggots. As the cheese ages in semi open-air caves, the cheesemakers cut a small slit in the rind of the cheese to encourage flies to land there. The flies, being flies, of course land there and lay eggs. After a few weeks, the eggs hatch and the larvae begin to devour the interior of the cheese – and the humans follow after. If pressed, I guess I’d try this one in the name of professional development but it would literally be a hard cheese to swallow.
suffolk punch moldy
All cheese in the world is made great thanks to microbes. Actually, without microbes, there wouldn’t be any cheese at all. And that, friends, is the scariest prospect of all! Be they bacteria, yeast, or fungi, they’re in cheese in some way, shape or form. To jump start the fermentation process essential to all cheese making, culture (a nice way of saying bacteria) is introduced to the milk to eat the lactose in the milk and acidify it. There are also ambient molds, yeasts, and bacteria that can get into the mix and add flavor along the way. During the maturation process, the mold present on cheese rinds further aids in the development of flavor. The moral of this moldy tale… don’t fear the mold…. eat it!
Stop by Saxelby Cheesemongers in the Essex Street Market thisSaturday for some Halloween Tricks and delicious Treats!

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