Food.  Roqueforts and other blue cheeses could well change color

Food. Roqueforts and other blue cheeses could well change color

The study published a few days ago in the “Food Science” section of the prestigious journal Nature could have gone unnoticed. But by announcing that they can change the blue-green color of Roquefort, Fourmes and other blue molds for shades ranging from greenish yellow to dark purple-red, Paul Dyer and his team from the University of Life Sciences in Nottingham (UK). -Uni) have tickled the curiosity of the world of agri-food, always looking for something new. Their work, in fact, consisted of intervening on the genes regulating the production of pigments while creating, through cross-breeding, new strains of microscopic fungi from these cheeses. While measuring devices indicated that the resulting cheeses all tasted the same, university volunteers who tasted them claimed that cheeses with lighter mold veins tasted milder than those with dark veins, more intense. New proof of the influence of gaze on taste, well known in cooking.

Much more decisive is recent work carried out by a French team from the Ecology, Systematics and Evolution laboratory in Gif-sur-Yvette (Essonne), led by Jeanne Ropars. Their study focused on Termignon blue, a Savoyard cheese produced in a few hundred copies by producers from Val-Cenis (Savoie). A blue cheese made from raw milk from cows that graze in the Vanoise National Park. They thus naturally collect the molds present on grazed plants and which pass into the milk and then into the cheese. To their amazement, scientists have identified several new strains of the fungus that forms blue-green veins. A great discovery given that, to date, only four populations of these penicillium roqueforti mushrooms were known in the world, only two of which are used for the production of cheese: one for the Roquefort protected designation of origin and the another for blue cheeses – fourme, gorgonzola and other French and British names.

Natural or industrial

A boon for the world of the food industry where cheeses are artificially seeded with strains of fungi selected to obtain standardized results. On the blue side, this reality has become dramatic because through industrial selection, the genetic diversity of these microorganisms has been dangerously reduced to the point of limiting their ability to reproduce. The new strains therefore offer the hope of recreating sufficient otherness so as not to exhaust the vein. “In the meantime,” Jeanne Ropars also emphasizes, “we are seeing an upsurge in small producers who prefer to rely on mushrooms naturally present in milk. A trend that can take over, especially if the consumer agrees to eat natural cheeses, which are less uniform in terms of appearance and taste.”

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