Cheese rind is home to a host of microorganisms such as yeasts, bacteria, and molds.
Some cheeses smell like feet because they have the same bacteria (particularly Brevibacterium linens) living on human’s feet.
The Brevibacterium linens aka the red-yeasts found on cheeses like Limburger, produce methanethiol, a sulfur compound whose volatility and odor are extremely pungent.
Also read: Why Do Some Cheeses Have Holes?
Top 5 Cheeses That Smell Like Feet
Many people indulge in smelly cheeses including us.
These are our top 5 favorite cheeses that smell like feet (I have no idea how to make it sounds not weird… but yeah, smell ‘bad’ but taste extremely good):
- Red Hawk
What Are Brevibacterium linens?
Brevibacterium linens are harmless bacteria that can be found on people’s skin.
Their role in the human body is crucial because they eat up cell skins that have died.
Normally, these bacteria do not produce much of an odor because they aren’t too many of them.
However, when your feet is warm and moist (imagine wearing your favorite shoes the entire day), your feet sweat.
Sweat contains salt and these bacteria absolutely love munching on salt. It is like buffet party and mass orgy for bacteria. A perfect breeding ground.
As a result, small numbers of Brevibacterium linens will quickly become a whole army of Brevibacterium linens.
Like any living thing that eats (what goes in has to come out), these bacteria do produce their own waste and it is their waste that ultimately gives off a very pronounced smell.
Why Don’t All Cheeses Smell the Same?
Cheeses are made up of many different microorganisms. Different bacteria produce different chemicals which ultimately result in different texture, aroma, and taste.
To put it another way, cheeses can have major differences in odors and flavors even when made from the exact same milk.
This is what makes every cheese unqiue and the ‘cheesy’ journey such an interesting endeavor.
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