The Real Reason Stinky Cheeses Smell

Cheese! It's one of those crowd favorite foods for many reasons. It's highly versatile (what meals can't have cheese in them?) and quite the comfort food. And whether you personally like to scarf down a creamy cheese risotto or enjoy hot pizza with dollops of it on top, when the craving hits, your options are endless. 

Amateurs and cheese connoisseurs alike know that it's a wonderful world out there in terms of the sheer variety of cheeses available. According to Serious Eats, you can opt for plenty of varieties, including but definitely not limited to, Gouda, feta, Camembert, Emmental, Monterey Jack, and more. But what makes each cheese so different from the last? 

Well, several factors enter the picture, such as where a type of cheese is from, the milk used to prepare it, the aging process associated with that brand of cheese, and other things like the distinctive flavors and scents. When it comes to odors specifically, you may have wondered why some cheeses have such a strong scent (though still taste delicious) in comparison to their more low-key counterparts.

The odor has to do with different types of bacteria

According to a piece by Reader's Digest, some cheese types smell awful for a rather straightforward reason. The culprit is believed to be the process that is employed while washing cheese. Chemicals used during this period are believed to be responsible for the strong smelling cheese. These are called "wash-rind" cheeses, and they require a specific aging process that involves being dunked in a brine, which leads to an odor-producing bacteria to grow and another to accumulate (called B. linens and B. epidermis Reader's Digest explains).

Despite the off-putting smell, stinky cheese still has its fair share of loyalists (there are even subscription boxes and shops dedicated to smelly cheese!). On one cheese Subreddit, fans got together to express their thoughts on these kinds of cheeses, with plenty of mixed opinions. One person wrote that they're obsessed with all wash-rind varieties, while another explained they could only handle blue cheeses. So, whether you love them or hate them, at least you know the science behind why your fridge stinks!