This post started life as a PM but I thought it was relevant enough to have more visibility, so I dropped it in here.
Hey Boof, I was wondering if you could help me out with my washed rind cheeses, I've looked at a few of your makes. I seem to have quite a bit of success getting a nice orange rind on them, so it's nice to know that I can actually do something right. Right now, I have a Port Salut and a Limburger going(both 1lb wheels). The question is, how do I know when they are ready? My book instructs washing the Port Salut for 6 weeks and it will bulge slightly, be soft in the middle and be bright orange. Well, I'm there already, after two weeks, is this because of the small size? It looks good enough to eat, but I feel I'd be jumping the gun. My understanding is that as time goes on, once you have the rind formed, you wash less and less frequently. Do you ever stop completely?
If I just keep washing and washing for, lets say 6 weeks, how will that impact the flavour? My guess is making it more pungent and stinky.
If I stop washing at 2 weeks and let it age for the remaining 4 weeks, how will that impact the flavour differently?
If I eat it now, after 2 weeks of washing... you get where I'm going.
Sorry that there are so many questions.... I'm aware that all of these could be answered with "Try it and find out!," which will most likely happen anyway. I'm enjoying these washed rinds very much. The morning washing ritual is very therapeutic. Also has a side effect of making me feel like a god to my microscopic bacterial populace.
My meager experience has shown that my one-pound 5 inch (450g/12.7cm) cheese wheels will ripen in 4-6 weeks. I have also had washed rind 3-4 lb (1360-1814g) bricks and wheels. The larger format cheeses take a bit longer to ripen. I generally wash the cheeses with a 3-5% brine that I've dosed with PLA or SR3 + Geo13. Once I either get an orange linens going, I can either keep hitting it repeatedly with the dosed brine or switch out and begin washing with brine only. If the rind had developed a slightly gritty, white coating (Geo), then I would stop washing and begin rubbing
the rind daily or every other day. The cheeses are maintained in a minicave which keeps the humidity at a comfy 90%+ which helps to maintain the rind development.
After weeks of this rind treatment, I may decide to stop further rind development by washing the rind under cool, running water...brushing the orange linens off. At that point, the cheese is dried with clean paper towels and additionally allowed to airdry before going back into the minicave or being vacuum-sealed. If the linens remain on the cheese rind and the cheese is vacuum-sealed, the result after weeks or months in the bag becomes a pasty nastiness. However, a Geo-dominant rind seems to handle the vacuum bag environment fairly well and remains dry.
It would seem that the longer and more frequent you wash a cheese, the more ripe and pungent it would get. The pungency
never seemed to be the problem
with my washed-rinds. It was the flavor
of the linens in the finished cheese that had to be removed
to enjoy the cheese. Here's another example of washing.
You are correct with the "Try it and find out!,"
approach. Experience is a good teacher.