Scientific breakthrough creates new strains of blue cheese mould
Blue cheese producers will soon be able to create new flavours and textures in their products after a breakthrough discovery that enables scientists to naturally breed new strains of blue cheese mould.
Penicillium roqueforti, the blue cheese mould, was thought to reproduce asexually, but Paul Dyer, professor of fungal biology at the University of Nottingham, has discovered it is possible to naturally breed the mould to create completely new varieties with unique cheesemaking properties.
The new process has been commercialised by Myconeos, after extensive trials with artisan cheesemakers Moyden’s Hand Made Cheese in Shropshire and Highland Fine Cheeses in Ross-shire. A range of new blue moulds will be launched under the Mycoforti brand this month.
“We have new strains that give very different flavour, aroma, texture and colour properties,” said Dr Jacek Obuchowicz, CEO of Myconeos. “We have developed blue moulds that can break down fat 20 times faster than existing moulds, or work much more slowly. Beyond that, we are looking at strains for goats’ or sheep’s milk blues. We want to be able to provide a toolbox that mould-ripened cheesemakers can use to create new products and sensations.”
The initial range includes four strains – Classic, Mild, Intense and Artisan – which each provide different flavour and texture characteristics in cheese. A bespoke mould has also been developed for Moyden’s by isolating a wild strain of blue mould from a hay bale at a Shropshire farm. Cheesemaker Martin Moyden plans to use it to make a new version of his flagship cheese called Wild Wrekin Blue.
“In blind tastings we found it consistently gave the cheese a real sweetness and brighter, more vibrant blue veins,” said Moyden. “I’ve always loved the connection between cheese and the place it is made, and this will really strengthen that idea of terroir. We will likely see a big increase in new blue cheeses with these moulds. It could have a big impact for both micro-producers and large manufacturers.”
Obuchowicz said he was in talks with cheesemakers across the UK and hoped to also work with Continental producers. He added there was potential to look at breeding other cheese mould varieties beyond Penicillium roqueforti in the future.