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After 12 days of waiting, I finally cracked open the results of my Salt Experiments!

Aided by @heatherrhian and her blind tasting skills, I valiantly ploughed through a total of 12 cheese samples in the name of science, and cheese!

The results are as follows …

3.7g (2.5%) batch

3.7g salt

3.7g salt

From left to right – Saxa, Cornish, Selles.

Note that I have nothing to do with Mons Fromagerie (although it is a fantastic place to buy cheese), I only noticed after taking all the photos that it kind of looks like an advert!

3.7g Saxa

3.7g Saxa

3.7g Cornish

3.7g Cornish

3.7g Selles

3.7g Selles

Appearance:

  • All are quite firm
  • Cornish is most mottled with a slight yellow tinge on the edges
  • Saxa has sunk most in the middle
  • Little breakdown under the rind, Selles has most
  • Selles has blue contamination, possibly around sand particles

Taste:

  • Saxa: acidic, not unpleasant, relatively chalky paste
  • Cornish: acidic, slightly unpleasant aftertaste, smooth paste
  • Selles: acidic, not unpleasant, smooth paste

Blind Taste:

  • Saxa: muted flavour, not much going on
  • Cornish: more complex than Saxa, but still nothing much
  • Selles: “breathe through your nose you can taste the beach!”

4.0g (2.7%) batch

4.0g

4.0g salt

From left to right – Saxa, Cornish, Selles.

4.0g Saxa

4.0g Saxa

4.0g Cornish

4.0g Cornish

4.0g Selles

4.0g Selles

Appearance:

  • Saxa very chalky and firm, also quite mottled rind with yellow bits at edges, also some blue contamination
  • Saxa also hasn’t decreased in height at all
  • Cornish and Selles both fluffy and light breakdown below rind, sheer white

Taste:

  • Saxa: Strange aftertaste, almost sour
  • Cornish: Soft paste, slightly acidic, very creamy
  • Selles: Mild growing flavour, lasts a long time

Blind Taste:

  • Saxa: “Don’t like that one”
  • Cornish: Neutral flavour, bit boring
  • Selles: Creamy texture, mushroomy, rind a bit thick

4.4g (3.0%) batch

4.4g salt

4.4g salt

From left to right – Saxa, Cornish, Selles.

4.4g Saxa

4.4g Saxa

4.4g Cornish

4.4g Cornish

4.4g Selles

4.4g Selles

Appearance:

  • Saxa firm & quite sticky, less mould than the others
  • Selles small amount of blue contamination, very soft and fluffy, good breakdown

Taste:

  • Saxa: slightly off aftertaste, dry paste
  • Cornish: very soft paste, sharp flavour about 1 second in then tails off, bit of a bite
  • Selles: good flavour, nice and rounded, complex

Blind Taste:

  • Saxa: “completely different texture”, chalky, very salty
  • Cornish: “quite nice, quite plain”
  • Selles: “don’t like that one”, mushroomy

4.9g (3.3%) batch

4.9g salt

4.9g salt

From left to right – Saxa, Cornish, Selles.

4.9g Saxa

4.9g Saxa

4.9g Cornish

4.9g Cornish

4.9g Selles

4.9g Selles

Appearance:

  • Saxa firm and sticky, smells quite like b. linens, very chalky paste
  • Cornish also has some yellow on the outside, but softer
  • Selles very soft
Taste:
  • Saxa: very strong flavour, tastes like an actual cow
  • Cornish: good flavour, aftertaste a little salty
  • Selles: very creamy, saltiness a little overpowering, bit sickly

Blind Taste:

  • Saxa: quite nice flavour, firm texture, no rind
  • Cornish: best one, lovely, firm texture, nice flavour
  • Selles: very salty, nice texture, thin rind
Conclusions
Cheese mastermind (with jealous cat in the background)

Cheese mastermind (with jealous cat in the background)

Having tasted our way through 12 cheeses, I think at the very least it’s possible to conclude that I was definitely using too little salt previously!

Overall though, I think I can draw the following conclusions:

  • Saxa tends to result in a chalky texture, whereas Cornish and Selles are more smooth
  • High levels of Saxa (and Cornish to some extent) results in lower geotrichum candidum growth, with the beginning of a yellow mould (possibly brevibacterium linens) appearing
  • Use of both Saxa and Selles resulted in some blue mould contamination – this isn’t surprising for Selles since it was harvested by hand, but strange for Saxa
  • Selles can yield complex flavours, but can also be a little overpowering
  • Cornish gives the overall best flavour, especially at 3% concentration and above

There are other variables which I’ve discounted in order to make these conclusions, for example I’m ignoring the cave positioning, and any possible contamination I may have introduced by handling the cheeses while flipping them.

Overall the winner would have to be the 3.3% Cornish cheese – it had a lovely, gentle flavour and great texture, although a special mention would have to go to the 3% Selles, which I thought was the most interesting.

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