The Silky, Stinky, Splendid World of Washed-Rind Cheeses

These cheeses’ aromas may be potent, but their mild flavors and buttery interiors are as crowd-pleasing as it gets.

Soft, washed-rind cheeses such as the Reblochon traditionally used to make Tartiflette (French Potato and Cheese Gratin) are a delectable category of cheese most easily identified by their silky, spreadable pastes; orange rinds (the result of their being washed in a brine as they age); and larger-than-life aromas. Yes, the term “stinky cheese” was no doubt coined for this style, which has a perfume often compared to that of a barnyard or sweaty feet, but fear not: These cheeses don't taste nearly as potent as they smell. Tasters frequently call out pleasant, mild flavors of butter, yeast, bread, mushrooms, cured meats, and game as they tuck into a ripe wedge.

The washed rind is edible and can be a significant contributor to a cheese's overall flavor, so to fully experience the cheese, we recommend that you leave it in place. But if the cheese's interior is at your funk limit, or the rind is unpleasantly gritty, by all means leave the rind behind. It is best to refrigerate these cheeses in airtight containers, preferably glass ones with lids, so as not to perfume other foods. Once cut, a soft, washed-rind cheese is best eaten within about a week.

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