Blue cheese just got more colourful!

new strains

new strains
Photo Credit: The University of Nottingham
Scientists at the University of Nottingham have developed new strains of Penicillium roqueforti with different colour variations meaning that we could soon be eating blue cheese that isn’t blue! The findings of the study are published in the journal NPJ Science of Food.

Penicillium roqueforti is used worldwide in the production of blue-veined cheese, such as Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola. The blue-green colour derives from pigmented spores formed by fungal growth. The researchers found that a biochemical pathway gradually forms the blue pigments, starting at a white colour, which progressively becomes yellow-green, red-brown-pink, dark brown, light blue, and finally dark blue-green. The team were then able to use some classic food safe (non GM) techniques to ‘block’ the pathway at certain points, and so create strains with new colours that can be used in cheese production.

Dr Paul Dyer, Professor of Fungal Biology, “The interesting part was that once we went on to make some cheese, we then did some taste trials with volunteers from across the wider University, and we found that when people were trying the lighter coloured strains they thought they tasted more mild. Whereas they thought the darker strain had a more intense flavour. Similarly, with the more reddish brown and a light green one, people thought they had a fruity tangy element to them – whereas according to the lab instruments they were very similar in flavour. This shows that people do perceive taste not only from what they taste but also by what they see.”

Read more:
New colours for old in the blue-cheese fungus Penicillium roqueforti, Matthew M. Cleere et al
Blue cheese shows off new colors, but the taste largely remains the same, www.arstechnica.com
Scientists ‘break the mould’ by creating new colours of ‘blue cheese’, www.eurekalert.org

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