Study Reveals How Blue Cheese Gets its ‘Tasty’ Smell

British scientists have identified for the first time a particular ‘secondary microflora component’ that helps give blue cheese its distinctive aroma.

Blue Stilton Cheese

The researchers led by Prof Christine Dodd from the University of Nottingham looked at the role of the various microorganisms in the production of British blue cheeses like Stilton.

They have developed a small scale cheese model in the lab which allowed them to delve into the role of the ‘secondary microflora’ of blue cheeses in more detail.

“The development of the mini cheese model provides a tool for us to investigate other issues that concern the industry, such as the testing of new starter cultures, alternative rennets and the effect of modifications in the production procedure, for example reducing salt,” Prof Dodd said.

The scientists also used a team of trained sensory experts to test different cheese models which contained varying yeast levels to work out which particular strain was responsible for improving the aroma.

The results reveal that a yeast called Yarrowia lipolytica directly influences the distinct smell of the popular dairy products.

“The panel was able to discriminate between samples with different yeast levels, suggesting that the variation in microbial flora was noticeable in the aroma. Limiting aroma variation is paramount to producing more consistent blue cheeses,” explained co-author Dr Kostas Gkatzionis of the Universities of Northampton.

The findings are being shared with cheese producers in the hope that it will help them to achieve greater consistency in production.