There are a few iconic images of cheeses. Parmigiano Reggiano. Brie. Gorgonzola. And clothbound Cheddar. While its origins remain a little mysterious, the way it enhances the flavor and texture of a cheese is indisputable.
A clothbound cheese, like Beecher’s Flagship Reserve and Flagsheep, the cheese is wrapped in a cheese cloth and rubbed with butter (or lard) to prevent the outside from drying and cracking. When the cloth is removed, the cheese is left with a mottled gray rind that has earthy aromas of the forest, mushrooms and fresh butter.
The aging process, called affinage, is a French term that refers to the aging and maturing of cheese. Aging contributes flavor, texture, and complexity to the cheese and affineurs are the people carefully monitoring the age and development of the cheese, working in the cheese aging room, carefully flipping truckles (cylindrical wheels of cheese) while they mature and develop flavor. (Flipping is needed to ensure even distribution of residual liquid whey within the cheese while redistributing mold throughout the truckles.)
With Beecher’s cheeses, this traditional style of aging and ripening cheese results in the cheese losing 14% to 16% of water weight, creating a slightly dry texture with intense, full flavors while maintaining a clean, creamy finish. You can taste the clear difference between a clothbound cheese versus one aged in a cryovac by trying Beecher’s Flight of Flagship Collection, which represents four cheeses that start with the same recipe, but are affinaged differently.
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