1. Please give me your best definition on mold and cheese.
Molds are microscopic fungi, which survive by consuming organic matter. This consumption causes decomposition, making molds a vital part of the food web. Although mold is most commonly associated with decomposing decaying plant matter, it can also grow on animal matter. It is found in just about all natural environments, and is all most always present in some form, as the spores are resiliant to even very extreme conditions.
Cheese is a food, beloved to many people, which is produced by curdling the milk of mammals, generally cows or goats. Curdling is the process of seperate the curds (solid percipitated proteins) from the whey (the other half of the milk proteins (casein), which is liquid), and can be accomplished ussing acid or rennet. "True cheeses" are curdled by both. This is accomplished by adding cultures of bacteria to the milk, which ferment it, making it more acidic. After this, an enzyme called rennet is added, which completes the curdling, producing cheese.
2. How does mold affect cheese growth?
There are a few effects that mold can have on cheese growth. For soft-ripened cheeses, such as brie, the mold forms a crust around the cheese that allows it to become gooier, smoother and more flavorful.
Another type of cheese, called "washed-rind," which includes munster cheese, uses mold to encourage the growth of flavor-enhancing bacteria.
In the third case, that of "blue cheeses", like gorgonzola, the cheese is innoculated with mold before it has a chance to harden very much. As the cheese ages, the mold grows through it, creating beautiful blue veins and a delicious flavor.
3. Why does cheese grow on mold?
Do you mean why does mold grow on cheese? Mold grows on cheese because cheese provides mold with great nutrients, plentiful water access, and an environment at an appropriate pH. These are the most essential elements of an environment conducivce to mold, and cheese has them.
As a result of this relationship, hard cheeses, with less water, tend to mold slower than soft cheeses, with lots of water available.
4. How does mold grow?
As fungus, mold reproduces through spores, which are very similar to seeds except in that seeds contain embryos (small, undeveloped versions of the plant), while spores contain only undifferentiated genetic material. Spores are incredibly resiliant to extreme conditions, and can survive just about everything except a combination of intense heat and pressure. Once these spores find a favorable environment, such as the one described above (they also like warm temoeratures, but this is not essential), the spores can develop into mature mold, which in turn, produces more spores, which, already being in a favorable environment, grow into more mold in the same location.
5. What type of mold grows on food, in particular cheese.
There are an incredible number of different mold species in the world, falling into a number of different genuses. One genus that, in general, likes to grow on cheese is the Penicillium genus, which is usually harmless. In fact, these molds are the ones that are usually added intentionally to cheeses. Species in this genus include P. commune, P. palitans, P. solitum and P. roqueforti ss. roqueforti. More harmful molds, which generally produce myotoxins, include Stachybotrys chartarum, which is by far the most well known, along with a multitude of others.
I hope that helps! Is it enough? Sorry it took so long (my power glitched off while I was writing it). If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
- Emily Dolson
Reach for the stars and, if you miss, grab the moon!