Époisses is an unpasteurised, soft cow’s cheese from Burgundy, washed in brine and Marc de Bourgogne (a local kind of brandy). Époisses is made from the milk of Brune, Montbeliarde and Semmental breeds of cow. The full-fat milk is heated, then cultures and a small amount of rennet are added and it is left to coagulate for 18 hours. Notably, Époisses is made with a caillé lactique, or “acid curd”, meaning that the milk coagulates mainly due to lactic acid bacteria rather than rennet. This makes the curd very loose and delicate and the result is a moist, unctuous cheese. The curd is roughly cut and set aside to drain in moulds. It is then salted and left to age for up to 6 weeks. During maturation, the cheese is washed several times a week in a mixture of brine and Marc de Bourgogne.
The rind is a distinctive red-orange orange colour and wet to touch. The pâte is ivory-white, dense, chewy, creamy and melts near the rind. It has a famously pungent aroma, but like other washed-rind cheeses, the smell is stronger than the taste. Still, the flavour is full and complex; it is sweet, salty, rather funky and has a nice tang to it. There are also some subtle fruity and earthy undertones.
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