What is Mimolette Cheese?
Mimolette cheese is of both French and Dutch origin, and is similar in some ways to Edam cheese in taste. In appearance it is quite different — it has a carrot to dark orange-colored flesh, depending upon the degree to which the cheese is aged. Mimolette is from the French word mimou which means partially soft, but the cheese when aged, is actually fairly hard, similar in consistency to Edam. It’s also called Boule de Lille, named after a cellar in Lille where the cheese may first have been made in France.
The French did not begin to make Mimolette cheese until the 1600s. A restriction on imports from Holland was the likely reason why the French began making Mimolette cheese on their own, rather than relying on imports from Holland. You’ll find Mimolette cheese made in Holland and that made in France today, particularly in the region of Brittany.
This cow’s milk cheese can be aged anywhere from six months to two years, and it is stored in a moist environment. It’s turned once a week and begins to develop a hard crater like surface, comparable to the moon’s surface. The craters are actually the result of cheese mites that begin to eat into the cheese as it ages. These are brushed off on a regular basis, but they do come back, and create the hard pitted rind.
Some people compare Mimolette cheese to a melon in appearance, particularly the cantaloupe. The nearly spherical cheese has that uneven surface, but when you cut into it you are surprised by the bright orange interior. Depending upon preference, there are several ways to eat this cheese.
When very young, about six months old, Mimolette may be called demi-vielle or "half old." The cheese is brightest orange at this point, fairly hard, and some don’t like the flavor and describe it as oily. At about a year’s age, Mimolette cheese is simply called vielle or "old," and at 18 months it is tres vielle or "very old." Cheese makers differ as to when to serve the cheese, but ripening to about 18 months evokes the strong flavor of nuts for which the cheese is prized. In general, the cheese is sold at about 18 months, and usually discarded if it is past the two-year point.
You may be able to find Mimolette cheese in slices, especially at stores that specialize in selling imported cheeses. A whole cheese is pretty large, and might be interesting to serve at large gatherings. The cheese can weigh about 8.82 pounds (4kg), so it would feed an ample amount of people.
The Mimolette cheese which I have purchased is very, very salty. Is this as it should be?
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