During the first few days of the cheese’s existence, yeasts begin to colonise its surface as any residual whey dries off. The yeast development at this point in ripening is important for the following reasons:
Firstly, the yeasts form the structural foundations of the rind.
Secondly, they contribute to the flavours and aromas of the cheese.
Thirdly, as the yeasts grow, they de-acidify the surface of the cheese, creating an environment which is more hospitable for the next sequence in the microbial composition of the rind.
Between four and six days after the make date, the young Rollrights are usually ready for their first rind wash. With soft bristled brushes, or small cloths, we apply a brine solution to the surface of the cheese. This washing process maintains a high level of moisture and salinity on the cheese surface, which when combined with the neutralised pH from the yeast growth, provides a good growing medium for specific species of bacteria which we want to develop over the outside of cheese.
The species which we are aiming to cultivate at this point create volatile aroma compounds, rich and savoury flavours, and pigment the rind anywhere from pale-peach to brick-red. We wash the cheeses every second or third day, depending on how they are ripening.
After around four weeks of having been turned daily, and washed every few days, the cheeses will have well established and healthy rinds, and the curd directly below the rind should be beginning to softer as it breaksdown.
The Rollrights are now moved from the ripening room, where they have been kept at high humidity and a relatively warm temperature, into a cooler maturation environment, where they are wrapped and stored ready for dispatch.