How to taste cheese: tricks and exercises

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How to taste cheese: tricks and exercises

In the last article on how to taste the cheeses was the moment of tasting (READ ALSO: “How to taste cheeses: taste“). We have seen that we must recognize both the traditionally classified 4 flavors and the aromatic notes that the cheese releases. In this step we want first to talk about a fifth flavor that is not part of the canonical classification: umami. What is it? Where can we find it? 

Then we will reveal a few little tricks to recognize the flavors when they are imperceptible. Because everyone can say that a spoonful of jam is sweet, or that an artichoke is bitter. What we want is to recognize the flavors, or rather their notes, when they are not the main actors. Let’s start.

How to taste cheeses: Umami, a fifth flavor?

Let’s start by saying that the 4 traditionally classified flavors are the main flavors. Umami is more a nuance and is typical of Eastern tradition. The umami is the taste of the monosodium glutamate which is a salt of glutamic acid that is found in the kombu alga, widely used in the oriental gastronomic tradition. To understand the umami we can simplify and say that is the flavor of the nut to make the broth. There are foods that have a umami component, including mushrooms, hazelnuts, boiled meat and even cheese. In particular in very aged cheeses such as parmesan or grana, the monosodium glutamate molecule is present. Not being our palates accustomed to this taste, we find it difficult to recognize it in the tasting of food. Here too it is all about training and then you will be able to catch the notes.

How to taste cheeses: tricks to recognize flavors

We all know how to recognize if a food is sweet or salty, sour or bitter. But it is not simple when the taste is tenuous and not preponderant. In fact, a cheese is salty, but recognizing the notes of sweetness or bitterness becomes more complex because in this field everything is reduced to notes. So we will not talk about sweet or bitter cheese, but cheese with sweet notes or bitter notes.

What it takes, as always, is training. We have prepared a scheme that you can follow.

Recognize the sweet: dissolve 10 g of sugar in a liter of water and taste it. You will immediately realize that you can not confidently say that the water is sweet, but surely you can say that it has a sweet note. Repeat the experiment by decreasing the amount of sugar gradually.

Recognize the salty: same speech, start with a liter of water with the tip of a spoonful of cooking salt and taste. The salt is an operation to complete the picture, because a cheese will usually be salted and this flavor does not necessarily have to be mentioned in the descriptive notes.

Recognize acid: this is a difficult taste to grasp and you have to train. In fact the presence of fats in the cheese mitigates the sour taste and can often be confused with salt. To get better in catching it, exercise a few drops of lemon juice in a liter of water or milk. To better simulate the mix of cheese flavors, you can taste milk first with a little salt and then some milk with a little salt and a few drops of lemon. From the difference between the two you will be able to grasp what the acid notes change overall and you will be able to grasp them better.

Recognizing the bitterness: do you know the white part of the citrus? It’s what we need to train. Take the white part of a grapefruit peel and start chewing it. You will feel the bitter note. After reduce the quantity and chew it together with a bread crumb. It will be very difficult to recognize it but not impossible.

Are the things to be analyzed when we taste a cheese? We talked about flavors and aromas. But are you sure that these are the only sensations to analyze? Keep following us


How to taste cheese: