The Cheese Whisperer: Unique Moosbacher
Cheese takes many forms. Rarely can one say that a single cheese is the only one of its type in the world. However, Moosbacher — a traditional Austrian cloth-bound cheese — can boast to be just such a unique cheese. According to its manufacturer Schärdinger, Moosbacher is the only cheese in the world to be made using both external and internal ripening processes.
Cheese is basically made in a cooking process that separates the curds from the whey. Some cheeses are eaten fresh after the curds are drained from the whey and others are aged and ripened using bacteria present in the curds or bacteria that is introduced to the outside of the cheese. Cheese with bacteria mixed in the curds ripens from the inside out (internal ripening), and cheese made with bacteria on the surface (surface-ripening) works from the outside in.
Made from pasteurized whole cow’s milk, Moosbacher curds are blended with the specific type of proprionic bacterial culture used to make Emmental (Swiss) and Jarlsberg cheese. This bacteria is responsible for imparting a sweet and nutty flavor as well as large holes, formed by a process known as propionic acid fermentation, where the living bacteria release gasses.
Later the wheels of Moosbacher are washed (or smeared) with an exterior bacterial culture similar to those used to produce the salmon-colored rinds of Taleggio and Gruyere. This additional layer of bacteria adds a mildly funky flavor and aroma to the cheese. Moosbacher is wrapped in a specially made linen cloth and sold after it ages for two months.
Double ripening of this cheese yields excellent flavors that resemble a cross between Swiss Emmental and French Gruyere. Unique in its production, Moosbacher has received the AMA “Käsekaiser” title and numerous other awards over the years. Moosbacher is ideal for cheese platters and snacking, and excellent when used to create warm dishes such as cheese soups and sauces or as a melted cheese topping.
Pair Moosbacher with a hearty German beer, such as a Paulaner Hefeweizen or Bitburger lager. Try contrasting the nutty sweetness of Moosbacher with a spicy fruited Belgian ale, such as New Belgium’s Trippel or Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde (one of my personal favorites).