A Cheese of a Different Colour

A Cheese of a Different Colour

blue cheese

Here is some fun news that will brighten up the winter days: Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a method of making different colours of blue cheese. And no, they don’t just dye them! The colour difference is in the mould – the deliciously funky Penicillium roqueforti  that gives cheeses like Stilton, Cabrales, and its namesake, Roquefort, their distinctive flavour and blue-green veins. Now, cheese with white, red/brown, and bright green pigmentedspores could be seen on our tables in future. This is thanks to some careful selective breeding on the part of the research team.

“The researchers found that a biochemical pathway gradually forms the blue pigments, starting at a white color, which progressively becomes yellow-green, red-brown-pink, dark brown, light blue, and finally dark blue-green. The team were then able to use some classic food-safe (non-GM) techniques to ‘block’ the pathway at certain points, and so create strains with new colors that can be used in cheese production. […]

Reported team lead Dr. Paul Dyer, Professor of Fungal Biology:

“‘The interesting part was that once we went on to make some cheese, we then did some taste trials with volunteers from across the wider University, and we found that when people were trying the lighter-colored strains they thought they tasted more mild. Whereas they thought the darker strain had a more intense flavor. Similarly, with the more reddish brown and a light green one, people thought they had a fruity tangy element to them – whereas according to the lab instruments they were very similar in flavor. This shows that people do perceive taste not only from what they taste but also by what they see.’”

The team is now embarking on a production trial with local cheesemakers in Nottinghamshire and in Scotland. They hope that these flashy new colours will convert a few of the folks out there who aren’t fans of traditional blue cheese. I’m already on board – and mentally planning an amazing technicolour cheese plate for as soon as these hit the market!