In the world of artisanal cheeses, Ouleout stands as a captivating character with a story as rich and complex as its flavor profile. Named after the serene Ouleout Creek in New York’s Delaware County, this cheese embodies the region’s deep-seated dairy farming heritage. Crafted by Vulto Creamery, Ouleout is a soft, washed-rind raw milk cheese that has charmed the palates of cheese enthusiasts with its bold, mushroomy notes and creamy texture.
However, like any intriguing tale, Ouleout’s story isn’t without its share of drama. In 2017, a tragic turn of events linked the beloved cheese to a multi-state Listeriosis outbreak, leading to its recall and the eventual closure of Vulto Creamery. Despite this, Ouleout’s legacy endures, serving as a poignant symbol of the triumphs and trials inherent in the world of artisanal cheese production.
Quick Facts About Ouleout
|Type of Cheese||Semi-soft, washed rind|
|Origin||United States, specifically New York’s Delaware County|
|Produced by||Vulto Creamery|
|Flavor Profile||Bold, tangy, and slightly sour with a creamy texture|
|Pairings||Pairs well with dark beers, robust red wines, and hearty breads|
|Notable Incident||Recalled in 2017 due to a Listeria outbreak|
|Aging Period||Typically aged for 60 to 90 days|
|Milk Source||Raw cow’s milk|
|Serving Suggestions||Ideal for melting, great on sandwiches or in cheese plates|
|Availability||Was available nationwide before the recall|
What is Ouleout?
Ouleout cheese is a captivating fusion of flavor, tradition, and controversy. Originating from the Vulto Creamery in Delaware County, New York, Ouleout is a semi-soft washed rind cheese. The name Ouleout (pronounced Ou-lee-out) is derived from a nearby creek, reflecting its strong ties to the local region.
Crafted by the skilled hands of Jos Vulto, Ouleout cheese has a fragrant and meaty profile that has made it a favorite among cheese connoisseurs. Its bold, tangy flavor and creamy texture make it an exciting addition to any cheese plate. However, this flavorful delight also has a darker side.
In 2017, Ouleout cheese was at the center of a public health crisis when it was linked to a Listeria outbreak. The raw milk cheese from two different lots tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, leading to multiple illnesses and even fatalities. This unfortunate incident led to a nationwide recall of all lots of Ouleout cheese, along with several other types produced by Vulto Creamery.
Despite the controversy, Ouleout cheese remains a significant part of artisanal cheese production history. It serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between culinary innovation and food safety.
What Does Ouleout Taste Like?
Ouleout cheese offers a complex and intriguing flavor profile. The cheese is described as having a taste reminiscent of bacon and beef, which then gives way to creamier undertones. Its flavor is also characterized as tangy and lactic, with underlying notes of musk and cream.
The cheese has a gentle, soft, and milky taste with a hint of sourness. A distinct nuttiness is also present, which seems to be a bit of a signature trait for Ouleout. Despite its robust flavors, the cheese is surprisingly gentle, in contrast to the washed rind cheeses of Belgium and Bavaria that it’s styled after.
In terms of texture, the rind provides a grainy contrast to the creamy interior, making each bite an exploration of flavors and textures. Even when young, the paste of the cheese is described as soft, but not gooey or runny.
Overall, Ouleout cheese packs a punch, full of rich and layered flavors that make it a standout addition to any cheese tray. It’s so unique that many people are surprised it comes from New York.
Ouleout Tasting Notes
Appearance: Ouleout cheese has a rustic allure, with its bright, orange-brown washed rind that’s slightly dimpled. The interior is a creamy yellow hue, presenting a visually pleasing contrast to the rind. The cheese looks moist and plump, indicating its freshness.
Aroma: The aroma of Ouleout is robust and distinctive. It possesses a strong, pungent smell, reminiscent of mushrooms, hay, and freshly baked bread. There’s also a subtle hint of the barnyard and creamery scents, which adds to its complex aroma.
Texture: Ouleout offers a semi-soft texture that is both creamy and supple. The rind provides a grainy contrast to the smooth, buttery interior. The paste of the cheese is soft but not runny, melting delightfully on the tongue.
Flavor: The flavor of Ouleout is bold and complex. Initial taste notes are savory, with hints of bacon and beef. This gives way to tangier, lactic flavors, underlined by musky and creamy notes. Despite its robust flavors, the cheese has a gentle, milky taste with a hint of sourness and a distinct nuttiness.
Pairing Suggestions: Ouleout pairs well with hearty breads, cured meats, and pickled vegetables. It also goes well with full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or a rich stout beer.
Why Was Ouleout Recalled in 2017?
Ouleout cheese was recalled in 2017 due to a significant health risk. Vulto Creamery, the producer of Ouleout, along with other cheeses like Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc, issued a recall for lots of these soft, wash-rind raw milk cheeses. The recall was initiated after the cheeses were linked to a multi-state outbreak of Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by consuming food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria. (source)
The issue came to light when Whole Foods Market issued a recall of Vulto Creameries’ Ouleout and Miranda raw milk cheeses due to the risk of Listeria contamination. The outbreak led to several illnesses and even resulted in two fatalities. (source)
Following an investigation by the FDA and local officials, Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, was identified as the likely cause of the outbreak. This led to Vulto Creamery voluntarily recalling its products and eventually shutting down.
7 Best Ouleout Substitutes
|Taleggio||An Italian cheese with a strong aroma but mild flavor. It’s semi-soft, washed-rind, and made from cow’s milk||Tangy yet mild, with notes of fruit and nuts. Its texture is creamy and it has an assertive aroma|
|Epoisses||A French cheese known for its bold, meaty flavor. It’s a soft, washed-rind cheese made from cow’s milk||Strong and pungent, with flavors of beef and bacon. The texture is creamy to runny|
|Limburger||A Belgian/German cheese famous for its strong smell. It’s a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese made from cow’s milk||Intensely aromatic, with flavors of mushrooms and ripe fruits. The texture is creamy|
|Fontina Val d’Aosta||An Italian cheese that’s semi-soft and made from cow’s milk||Earthy and woody, with a slight nuttiness. It has a dense, creamy texture|
|Reblochon||A French cheese that’s soft, washed-rind, and made from cow’s milk||Mildly fruity and nutty, with a creamy, supple texture|
|Munster||An Alsatian/French cheese that’s soft, washed-rind, and made from cow’s milk||Strong and tangy, with a smooth, sticky texture|
|Raclette||A Swiss cheese known for its melting qualities. It’s a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk13.||Mildly salty and nutty, with a creamy texture14.|
What Pairs Well With Ouleout?
- Wines: Ouleout pairs well with a variety of wines, particularly those that can balance its robust flavor. A crisp and fruity Pinot Grigio is a recommended option
- Breads: Hearty breads complement the creaminess of Ouleout cheese, providing a satisfying contrast in both taste and texture
- Cured Meats: The savory notes of cured meats like prosciutto or salami harmonize well with the complex flavors of Ouleout
- Pickled Vegetables: The tangy acidity of pickled vegetables cuts through the rich creaminess of Ouleout, making for a balanced pairing
- Beer: Fuller-bodied beers, such as stouts or porters, can stand up to the strong flavors of Ouleout cheese
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