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Exploring Epoisses

Epoisses

Custardy smooth and deeply flavorful, this French washed-rind cheese is considered by many to be the ultimate dipping cheese. 

History of Epoisses

Epoisses (pronounced ay·PWOS·s) was invented in the early 16th century by the Cistercians of Citeaux Abbey. Though it was extremely popular in the early 20th century, production greatly fell as a result of the Second World War. Epoisses making was picked up again in 1956, by Fromagerie Berthaut, which is now the leading manufacturer of the cheese

Image Credit: Flickr user Association du Château d’Epoisses ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Taste

Pungent and complex epoisses is almost meaty in its savoriness. The cheese is salty and buttery rounded out with sweet and earthy notes. The rind adds another layer of flavor, a slight tannic bitterness that contrasts with the milky flavors of the epoisses interior.

Texture

Epoisses is highly spreadable with a custardy smooth consistency, enveloped in a soft rind with a delicate sandy texture.

Image Credit: Flickr user the tablehopper ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

How Epoisses is Made

Epoisses is traditionally made with raw milk, but only pasteurized versions are allowed in the US. To produce it, the milk is first warmed to facilitate lactic acid coagulation. The resulting curds are drained, salted, and dried on racks, then transferred to a cellar to age.

Epoisses is known as a washed-rind cheese. The cheese is rinsed around thrice a week in Marc de Bourgogne (a French pomace brandy) and water, then brushed by hand to distribute the bacteria across its surface for even fermentation. After about six months, the cheese develops its distinct red-orange rind.

Best Ways To Eat Epoisses

Enjoy epoisses at room temperature to take full advantage of its unctuous texture. The pungent cheese is a must-have on a charcuterie or cheese board; its meltingly soft texture is perfect for dipping and spreading over a slice of crusty bread.

Image Credit: Flickr user n.kuzma ( CC BY-NC 2.0 )

You can also add in a few herbs, spices, or aromatics and bake to infuse their flavors. Try not to go too crazy here though, so as not to overpower the natural taste of the cheese.

Epoisses also makes a wonderful addition to a savory tart. Refrigerate the cheese to solidify and slice it into cubes to distribute throughout your tart filling. Once baked, they transform into creamy bites of pungent cheese.

Feature Image: Flickr user artizone ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

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