Despearado | Cato Corner Farm, Colchester, CT
A washed rind cheese is simply a cheese that’s rind is washed with a brine. Brines are typically mild salt solutions that cheeses are dipped into or that are wiped onto a cheese. This process seasons the cheese and prevents mold growth on the rind. But the salt content and moisture create an ideal environment for bacterial growth. The bacteria that we are most familiar with in this process are called brevibacterium linens or b. linens. This bacterium is responsible for the orange hue, funky odors (sometimes like feet or a barnyard) on cheeses, and the ripening/softening of the inner paste of a cheese. Much like white mold on a brie, b. linens ripens the chesses from a thick dense paste to a creamy buttery yielding texture.
Soft washed rind cheeses are another wonderful product with monastic roots. These cheeses were first made by vegetarian French and Dutch monks as a protein source and product to support the monasteries with. This cheese making tradition grew along side the beer brewing and spirit distillation traditions to a point where monasteries would wash their cheeses in brines based on either. A cheese washed with beer or spirit takes on some of the flavor and intensity of the product resulting in a completely different experience.
This month we bring you Despearado from Cato Corner Farm in Colchester, CT. This is a raw cows milk cheese washed with fermented pear mash and Pear William eau de vie from Connecticut's Westford Hill Distillery. This is a variation Cato Corner Farm’s regular washed rind cheese Hooligan. Despearado is by far the most intense and stinky of the selections this month. The pear mash and eau de vie wash adds some serious pear aroma and lingering pear flavor in the aftertaste. The smell is like a farm’s cider press crossed with barnyard aromas and not for the faint of heart. But those who venture in are rewarded with a beautiful dual density cheese. Despearado is creamy and custard like on the outside and slightly chalky in the center with sweet buttery and fruity flavors and a slight grassy kick.