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WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Why do some cheeses smell so godawful?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (22658 points ) January 16th, 2013

Swiss, Limburger, Stilton, Camembert… why do they all smell like funky feet?

When our grocery store puts out a “fresh” cheese display, I can’t get within 2 aisles of it without gagging!

Why does something so yummy have to smell so disgusting?

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9 Answers

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Because most cheese is fermented milk, meaning that it’s exposed to bacteria and yeast.

thorninmud's avatar

The same bacterium that causes foot odor (brevibacterium) is also present in some cheeses (typically those with reddish rinds).

Sunny2's avatar

The enzymes, molds and bacteria used to produce the cheese contribute to the flavor and the smell. There are a number of food s where it’s better to hold your nose while eating them: durian, lutefisk, and cheese being among them.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The bacteria that give limburger its taste is also what gives you BO.

Looks like @thorninmud beat me to it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I understand about the fermentation and all that, I guess I’m just confused about why some cheeses smell perfectly fine and other cheeses make you gag. Are they just processed differently?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Different cheeses use different bacterium to give them their unique flavors and smells. Some don’t smell as bad as others. How they are processed also has an effect on the smells.

thorninmud's avatar

The smelliest cheeses are the “smear-ripened” cheeses (these are the ones with the reddish rinds). They’re also called “washed rind” cheeses because the rinds of the young cheeses are washed with a salt solution containing the brevibacterium (b. linens), then they’re ripened.

So the strong odor doesn’t actually come so much from the flesh of the cheese (the culture mixed in with the milk is a different organism), but from the rind.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Okay, I see. Thanks, y’all!

I asked this here because I’m on Google too much, helping my daughter with homework. I’m soooo tired of Google, haha!

Shippy's avatar

Well yes it does but if I met someone with funky feet that smelled like that ugh! I’d go crackers!!

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