As a cheesemonger-in-training, I typically follow the rules when handling my cheese selections. Fresh fromages like chevres should be served sooner rather than later, age gouda can be stored up to a few months with proper care and temperature control, etc. There are reasons for these rules, including preserving integrity of the taste and complexity of the rind or control of the acidity, and I respect them. However, there comes a time when I throw caution to the wind to see just how far I can take a cheese, how long I can let it mature before it goes past its prime. Such is the case with my recent purchase of Jasper Hill’s Constant Bliss.
For those not in the know, Constant Bliss was the first cheese produced at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT. This complex fromage is made from pasteurized, uncooled evening milk of the farm’s Ayrshire cows and aged a mere 60 days. Most recognize Constant Bliss by its bloomy white rind which hides a creamy underlayer of fatty paste, followed by a more substantial and pillowy center. In its early stage, each layer has a distinct flavor, the delicate rind is earthy without being too assertive, followed by the thin layer of sweet cream, ending in a lemony center. By aging my wheel for a month in my cheese safe, not only did the flavors intensify, but the actual structure of the cheese took on a whole new life. A fantastically mouth-watering life.
Unlike traditionally aged wheels, my aged Constant Bliss had a more distinct and thicker rind with flavors leaning toward mushrooms and earth. The layer of cream became less stable and gooey as it got to room temperature and the sweetness intensified yet was not overpowering or heavy. Finally, the clay-like center mellowed out and had a grassy flavor, with just a hint of citrus and salt. Paired with some prosciutto and a light chardonnay, this experiment was a bona fide success.
Would I recommend trying this with any cheese? Probably not, seeing as cheese is alive and depending on its type of rennet, lactic bacteria, and pasteurization, aging a cheese could result in utter disaster. Has anyone else tried aging a cheese sample? How did it turn out?