This Wiki Article discusses oiling formed cheese rinds, normally during aging. Fresh fresh formed and unformed cheeses are not oiled. Formed cheeses during aging are commonly either natural rinds, vacuum bag sealed rinds, or waxed rinds. Historically waxing was empoyed after aging to reduce damage during shipping (ie Dutch Gouda & Edam). Vacuum bag sealing is a modern invention.
The primary advantage to natural rinds is that the rind enables the cheese to breath during aging, which is good. However there are two disadvantages depending on the cheese type, dehydration which if high results in a very dry hard cheese, and if rapid can result in surface stress cracks from uneven shrinking, and unwanted surface molds.
Oiling surfaces of cheeses during aging can aid as barrier to excessive dehydration. To manage unwanted surface molds during aging, three methods are used, i) developing a low moisture content rind (normally done during pressing, and augmented by dry salting or brining rinds and air drying), ii) having a high salinity rind (normally from initial and in some cheese types repeated dry salting rinds, and by brining cheeses (ie Gouda & Edam)), and iii) by oiling rinds. Different oil types and their pros and cons for rinds are discussed in the Wiki: Oil Types article.
Oiling rinds is a very popular rind development method due to its simplicity and minimal equipment. The goal of oiling is over several coatings to create a firm sturdy protective layer or seal through the long cheese aging phase such that i) unwanted surface microorganisms are kept at bay and ii) it is easier to control the moisture content of the cheese from dehydration.
- Using this method on small cheeses this will result in less pate to rind ratio. Once you build a hard rind it’s like a bowling ball, nothing bothers it, and it can be aged for years, albeit with periodic oilings.
- In general, moist lightly pressed washed curd type cheeses such as Gouda and Edam should not be oiled but instead waxed or vacuum sealed. This is because these types of cheeses have a high pH early in the aging process and a lot of food on their surface and thus have a high potential for yeast to grow.
Common application methods are:
- Dip a wad of cloth or disposable paper towel in the oil, dab it on the rind, then wipe the excess off.
- Pour a little oil on cheese and then use hands to spread thoroughly all over cheese, wipe off any excess.
Oil should be applied very lightly to the rind so that it quickly soaks into and conditions the outer layer of the rind. Excess oil should be polished off as over applying oil will create a slick on the cheese and with time can produce a rancid flavor.
After pressing and air drying, cheeses should initially be aged for 7-10 days with a natural rind to enable the cheese to dry and mature and for the rind to toughen before oiling to seal the rind. Oiling too early with cheese still moist can result in yeast injections.
Oil should be applied repeatedly, initially about every week until it forms a skin and then monthly for long-term aging.
In between oilings, the cheese should be rubbed with dry salt to aid in obtaining an impervious barrier.