Photo: flickr / avlxyz
Bleu Cheese is delicious. We’d smother everything in it if we could.You know what’s kind of troubling though—the mould in Bleu Cheese. Why is that OK to eat? Our mums told us when we were younger that mould was bad for us after we ate a whole tray of rotten Oreos. Is a mould double standard afoot?
Generally speaking, the aversion from mould in foods comes from the cognition that mould on fresh foods clearly indicates that they are no longer fresh. We also assume that food would not taste the same because a fermentation has began to take place -usually accompanied by change in appearance, texture and aroma of the food in question. Many molds simply taste unpleasant yet are not problematic to our bodies. Dangerous molds are those which produce mycotoxins and aflatoxins. These toxins may effect our respiratory system and in some cases even act as carcinogens. Not all molds produce these toxins.
Penicillium Roqueforti and Penicillium Glaucum which are the blue molds used for cheese, cannot produce these toxins in cheese. The combination of acidity, salinity, moisture, density, temperature and oxygen flow creates an environment that is far outside the envelope of toxin production range for these molds. In fact, this is true for almost all molds in cheese, which is the reason that cheese has been considered a safe moldy food to eat over the past 9,000 years. Not only is it safe but it can also be healthy (P.Roqueforti and P.Glaucum have natural antibacterial properties and ability to over-take pathogens. Moreover, our bodies use a variety of wild flora for digestion, development and immune systems).
Unfortunately, mass food manufacturers have run relentless campaigns over the previous few generations to cause consumers to conclude (beyond their 9,000 years of wisdom) that plasticky looking bright-coloured food-like substances with homogenous texture, in a vacuum-pack and big brand logo = equals controlled/safe product. Anything moldy, rustic, irregular, inconsistent or natural = equals unsanitary conditions, primitive family farming, or uncontrolled production. Today we understand that this is not the case as we go back to traditional and artisan foods -and stay away from highly processed industrial food replacements.
Blue Molds – have a particularly unique effect on cheese. They accelerate two processes dramatically: Proteolysis (breakdown of proteins), which causes the cheese to take on extra-creamy texture (especially in proximity to the blue mould veins), and lipolysis (breakdown of fats), which makes up the tangy, spicy, sharp and strong flavour. The creamy texture stand up to the sharp flavour and together they bring upon an exciting flavour/texture/aroma profile, which is often further balanced against sweet/nutty milk and lots of salt (Blue cheeses typically contain twice the salt of other cheeses). This combination is so unique – it is unlike any other food!
BOOM. So there’s your answer. Please continue devouring delicious Bleu Cheese.
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