Why Does Stinky Cheese Stink?

Why Does Stinky Cheese Stink?


We’ve been pondering the mystery of why
some cheeses smell like stinky gym socks. So we posed the question to our friends at
St. James Cheese Company: Why do some cheeses smell bad…but, according to their devotees,
taste delicious? Most stinky cheeses are made in similar ways. They’re washed-rind cheeses. After the cheese curds are placed in their
wheels to age, washed-rind cheeses are bathed in salty brine, or sometimes booze. Epoisses, the king of stinky cheeses, is washed
in strong brandy. It is washed in a solution of brine and marc
de Bourgogne…it’s a spirit that the winemakers will make there out of the grape must, right. And it’s a clear alcohol. It’s like jet fuel if you drink that stuff. It’s like really strong. But they wash it with a solution that includes
a little bit of the marc, and produces this wonderful small, it’s about an eight or
10 ounce just a little stink bomb of gooeyness. The washing process introduces salt and flavors
from the brine. It also brings in cheese’s best friend:
microbes — although they can also be added in the form of starter cultures. Washing creates a warm, moist, salty environment
that certain microorganisms love. And the star of stink is a bacterium called
Brevibacterium linens. Typically what happens is a cheese maker will
wash the outside of the cheese with some kind of liquid, could be wine or beer or cider
or a saltwater solution, and the moist salty wet on the rind attracts bacteria that’s
ambient in the air called Brevibacteria linens and the Brevibacteria linens colinate on the
outside of the rind because they love that salty wet and they basically break down the
protein that’s on the rind and they emit gases. Which does not sound appetizing, that sounds
gross Incidentally, you know what else is warm, moist, and salty? Sweaty human skin. Close relatives of B. linens, like B. epidermidis,
have been found on human feet. which is the same type of bacteria which is in dark places on humans like feet and armpits
and stuff like that. That’s why people are like why do my gym
socks smell like cheese. They are very closely related. Microbes, mostly yeasts and molds, eat the
fat and protein in the cheese and produce smelly compounds, including volatile fatty
acids like propanoic acid and isovaleric acid. Perhaps not coincidentally, those same compounds
are implicated in foot odor. Even worse, B. linens comes along and converts
methionine, a sulfur-containing component of protein, to methanethiol, dimethyldisulfide,
and dimethyltrisulfide. Funny how every time we mention sulfur in
a video about smell, we’re about to tell you something stinks. And yeah, methanethiol is in foot odor too. It’s probably not going to walk off the
plate on you, I mean you probably have time to eat it before it moves. You’re not going to offend it by telling
it that it smells bad. It’s going to be OK. So it’s not your imagination. Stinky cheeses literally smell like feet. B. linens isn’t the only perpetrator. It gets along great with other microbes in
cheese, like the yeast Geotrichum candidum. Some evidence suggests that bacteria and yeast
work together to produce the distinctive pinkish-orange color of washed-rind cheeses, which is created
by pigments called carotenoids. And people learn to love these cheeses, despite
or even because of their strong smell. Once it hits your tongue, the meaty, salty
flavor isn’t much like feet at all. But you kind of work up to it and you win
because if the cheese didn’t ultimately taste good after you put the stinky thing
in your mouth, you probably wouldn’t go back for more…But I think that’s what
makes cheese so fun The smell of Epoisses is so strong, some say
it’s banned on public transit in Paris — though the stories are probably apocryphal. I looked on the internet and couldn’t find
any confirmation of that. When you smell it now, it’s stinky, but
a different kind of stinky. It’s a very biological stinky, not a chemical
stinky, right? It smells like hay to me…like if you put
your face in a hay barn. That’s pure, just stink for the sake of
being stinky. Either way, people learn to love their stinky
cheeses. At first with certain stinky cheeses you smell
them and you’re like, why would anybody ever eat that, and the more you’re around
it, OK, it’s not so offensive. And then you notice you’re excited about
eating it and you like the funky taste and the funkier it is the more you want it. Thanks for watching. Tell us what stinky foods you love in the
comments, and maybe we’ll make a video about them. And if you liked this video, help us go on
more cool field trips, meet cool people, and eat cool cheese by subscribing, hitting the
bell to get notifications, and sharing this video with your friends. See you next week!

Danny Hutson

22 thoughts on “Why Does Stinky Cheese Stink?

  1. Durian is the king of stinky foods. Also the best. The durians that you westerners eat are trash durian for export from Thailand. Different species? It just taste different

  2. You should do an episode on natto, which is incredibly stinky. It's very popular in northern Japan, though I never acquired a taste for it.

  3. hey guys, if you have the time, could you check out some of the videos on my channel, and tell me what you think? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClisrWCg1dKG6xgCWbY6U0g?view_as=subscriber and remember, dont refrain to tell me what i can improve on in the comment section below

  4. Oh, here’s an idea, what’s the chemistry behind the gene testing that the courts have ordered to reunite families torn apart at the big box concentration camps on the border?

  5. Nothing beats a good, old "skordalia"! It is a traditional greek dish, made with (a lot of) mashed garlic and potato or bread. Not only does it stink all around the neighborhood, but your breath will knock people out for at least a couple of days after you eat it. A true masterpiece of stinkiness! 👌

  6. Has to be Durian, its packed with vitamins, minerals, and oils that are so good for the body, and is not considered the King of fruits for nothing, I hated it when I first tried it, and that was fresh frozen from a store, but, later on , I got a yearning for it, and now I can't seem to get enough of this wonderful fruit

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