Cheese is cheese, right? Well, not exactly. Marin French Cheese is crafted for the ultimate taste experience.
To enhance your enjoyment we share some insights and nuances about how best to choose, store and serve our cheeses.
Selecting, Serving & Storing Tips
Marin French Cheese specializes in making soft-ripened cheeses. These cheeses ripen from the outside surface to the inside. The terms soft-ripened and bloomy rind are used interchangeably in the cheese world to describe similar styles. Bloomy rind is an apt description for our Brie, Triple Crème Brie and Camembert cheeses, as they are distinguished by a fluffy white rind on the outside of the cheese while the inside softens gradually and develops rich flavor, creamy texture and subtle aroma. Petite Breakfast is a soft-ripening cheese we sell when it’s fresh and young and no rind develops on its surface. Schloss is also a soft-ripening cheese but the rind is a reddish-orange, not white and bloomy. Schloss is in the category of washed rind cheeses, washed in brine or sometimes wine to deter the bloomy white rind development.
When selecting a wheel of Marin French soft-ripened cheese, take the wheel gently in both hands and press gently around the rind and in the center of the wheel with your thumb. If the cheese gives a reasonable bit under your thumb, it’s ripe. If it resists or is stiff, it’s not yet ripe. A wheel that’s a bit firm in the center but gives at the edge is young but beginning to ripen and is ready to be enjoyed. As these cheeses age (Marin French Cheeses ripen over 6-10 weeks), flavors become stronger and more complex. The preferred stage of ripeness is always subject to individual taste, so we encourage you to try various cheeses and stages of ripeness and decide for yourself. Depending on when you plan to eat the cheese, select it ‘ripe’ or ‘mature’ to serve right away or ‘young’ to ‘ripe’ to store in your refrigerator before serving.
Since each cheese is stamped with a ‘Use By’ date, you can use this formula to determine the ripeness you prefer:
6 weeks before ‘Use By’ date = Young
3 weeks before ‘Use By’ date = Ripe
1 week before (or on) ‘Use By’ date = Mature
A savory note on aroma: When unwrapped, a ripe cheese should have an easily detectible, yet mild fragrance. The aroma can be fruity or earthy or slightly mushroomy. Young soft-ripened cheeses may not have much aroma. Over-ripened cheeses can have odors of ammonia or have brown, damaged rinds, a good indication they may be past their prime and should be avoided.
Serving soft-ripened cheese is fun, easy and requires no special skill or experience! Simply unwrap your wheel of Marin French cheese and cut in half through the center, then cut small slices from the half. This simple technique for soft-ripened cheese keeps the shape of the cheese and features a taste of the center and rind in each bite. This method also makes it easy for guests to continue cutting their own slices instead of digging into the soft center of the cheese. Remember: Don’t pre-cut until you’re ready to serve.
Remove the cheese from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving – room temperature is ideal for allowing flavors to open up and keeping the texture creamy and soft. Cover with an inverted bowl to tame the aromas and keep the cheese from drying out.
Cheese is for sharing! There’s never a time NOT to serve cheese – any picnic, party, holiday, or gathering. We like the quiet times too, when a glass of wine and a good book are the perfect accompaniments.
The most important thing to remember about storing cheese is that it’s alive! Cheese needs a little air and moisture to stay at its best while waiting for you to enjoy. Avoid cling wrap; soft-ripened cheese wrapped tightly in plastic wrap will deteriorate quickly. Ideally, when you get the cheese home or after it’s cut, wrap it in wax paper or parchment, place in a plastic container with a lid and store in your refrigerator. Open the lid every day to give the cheese a little air, or keep the wrapped cheese in the vegetable drawer where it will get the necessary moisture and air to keep it happy. Some Marin French cheeses come in a sturdy poplar wood cup, perfect for storing even after opening. Just re-wrap the cheese in the cup with foil, parchment or a loose plastic wrap.