Soft-ripened cheeses are perhaps the most decadent class of fromage – wonderfully soft and luscious in texture, flavor reminiscent of heavy cream and butter, and that snowy soft bloomy rind that encases the cheese. Also known as surface-ripened cheeses, the rind and ripening (or softening) is a process by which the cheese is either sprayed or dipped in a particular mold that allows it to ripen from the outside in. As a result, many soft-ripened cheeses will exhibit a more runny consistency near the rind, and a firmer center. Some cheese producers, like Marin French in Petaluma, mix the mold into the curds, so their soft-ripened cheeses progress from the inside-out, making for a more uniformly smooth paste.
Soft-ripened cheeses, widely known as extra creamy, can actually be lower in fat than their firmer counterpoints. One reason cheeses like brie and camembert are so soft is the increased moisture left in the curds before ripening. This helps create their unctuous paste, and results in less butterfat, or matière grasse, in the solids. Exceptions to this, of course, are the triple crèmes, which by law must have at least 75% butterfat. These tend to be more dense and buttery than soft and creamy.
GreenLeaf features a variety of lovely soft-ripened cheeses, from local producers as well as imported. Choose from a variety of brie, in small and large wheels. We stock a number of triple crèmes, including Brillat Savarin and Explorateur from France, Seal Bay Triple Cream from Australia and local triple creams from Nicasio Valley and Rouge et Noir. We offer soft-ripened goat cheeses from Cypress Grove and Redwood Hill, and there’s an irresistible mixed-milk Robiola from Italy too.