Is this what raclette should taste/smell like?
August 31, 2010 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Should raw milk raclette smell like this?

I bought a wedge of raw milk raclette tonight at Whole Foods. I have never tried a cheese I haven't liked, but the internet suggests raclette has a pleasant smell, and it's sweet/nutty/etc, whereas mine definitely has a strong sweaty sock smell. Though it was better after heating on crackers, there were still a few bites here and there that put me off with the taste.

I would just throw it out or suck it up and eat it, but 1. I'm new to the world of raw milk and slightly nervous about getting sick and 2. I paid a lot for it. If raw milk products go bad, do they smell like this, or is this just raclette?
posted by artifarce to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite if you ask a friend who knows cheeses to sniff it. I'm sure the cheese guy at Whole Foods would give you his honest opinion of whether or not the cheese has gone bad, and compensate you accordingly.

in the absence of such assistance, I would just toss it. not worth risking an upset stomach.
posted by randomstriker at 7:27 PM on August 31, 2010

I see you are in cary, NC. Go to southern season in chapel hill and bring it with you. Ask them, they will definitely know and tell you accordingly.

If not, take it into one of the wonderful restaurants in durham and ask the exec. I would recommend nana's or magnolia grill. The execs there are awesome and would also be able to happily help you.
posted by TheBones at 7:49 PM on August 31, 2010

Best answer: Without even reading your description, my answer was yes, it should smell like that. Same answer after reading the description. Cheese smells rank, yo. Raclette is also a stronger cheese than people often expect. It is meant to be heated on a grill and eaten on top of meat and potatoes. Delicious and stinky!

As an aside, I was at a fancy event recently where they served munster, like real munster, and WHOA that smells nasty. It smelled like someone had brought the outhouse and barn into the room. Apparently that meant it was really good. Raclette shouldn't smell like that.
posted by ohio at 7:54 PM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Our French friend made raclette for us. I do think it smells like stinky feet...
posted by GaelFC at 8:10 PM on August 31, 2010

Best answer: While I quite enjoy the taste of raclette, the scent can be a bit off-putting to me. I am going to guess your cheese is fine, and I recommend melting it over potatoes and eating with pickles on the side. Heating it seems to improve the scent, as you've noticed. Your first experience with it sounds a lot like mine.
posted by annathea at 8:40 PM on August 31, 2010

Like ohio and GaelFC, before clicking through to the thread, I was thinking "damp socks" -- so yeah, that's raclette.
posted by holgate at 8:41 PM on August 31, 2010

Best answer: Hmmm... I would never say that raclette is a cheese with a "sweet" smell. It can, in fact, be incredibly stinky and "footy" as some say. It is best served melted and which really lets out some amazing flavor and more aroma that tends to balance the stink. If you don't have enough to do the whole raclette thing with potatoes, little onions and gherkins, try it on a piece of crusty bread, lightly broiled until melty. Frankly, if my raclette didn't stink, I'd take it back!
posted by amanda at 8:42 PM on August 31, 2010

Ditto everyone else's instant reactions to your question: raclette can smell awful. Melt it over something, don't eat it cold.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:15 PM on August 31, 2010

Oh, and don't just heat it. You'll really need to melt it til it's bubbly and sizzly. I like mine broiled til it's almost burned, actually.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:16 PM on August 31, 2010

we eat raclette occasionally, the one from Swiss that you grill. It should be melted, not eaten cold. and does it ever stink. But once its melted, it is bliss. Usually you the pour it on potatoes, or bread, ham, it's all good.
posted by lundman at 12:17 AM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Sweet? Nutty? Raclette? The intarweb people saying these things about raclette are not eating raclette. My ex-boyfriend of 6 years was from the Savoie region, I love raclette and know it well — as others have said, on first seeing your question, "urk-ish stinky" was what came to mind. And yes, it is absolutely meant to be melted over meats and potatoes. In fact, that's what "raclette" refers to when said in France, unless the cheese itself is specified — they have raclette thingies that heat meat and potatoes on top, with, usually, six mini-pans that sit on a heater beneath that, in which you melt your raclette. Check out the photo on the French Wikipedia entry for raclette. It's melting!

If you want a raclette-like cheese to eat "cold", try Comté, which is from the same area. It smells a bit like socks too, but less so, and has a tangy, rich taste. As with any cheese, you may not like it, so if you do try it, don't get much at first (the true raw milk Comté is expensive even here in France). One doesn't usually eat much of it anyway; I just have a few bites every evening, which is enough to satisfy my Comté craving. But now you've reminded me of raclette. Good grief I love raclette melted over a potato with ham.
posted by fraula at 12:40 AM on September 1, 2010

I was surprised when I came home to our shared apartment in Lugano, Switzerland to find my very American roommate had torn the kitchen apart and was in the process of doing the same to our tiny refrigerator "looking for the dead mouse! I SMELL it in here!!". He was amazed when I actually used the brazier to make raclette potatoes and they didn't taste like dead mouse.
posted by Tchad at 1:26 AM on September 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome! Thanks for the answers. Now that I know that it's *supposed* to be like that, I can it happily. :) Broiled over a potato and meat and pickles, probably.
posted by artifarce at 8:38 AM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Raclette is what is known as a "washed rind" cheese. That means just what you would probably guess: That the exterior of the cheese is washed with a liquid (could be just salt water, but for some cheeses is a local wine, spirit, or beer; Chimay cheese, for example, is washed in Chimay beer). This process encourages the growth of a bacteria called B. Linens and results in a characteristic reddish-pink to reddish-tan rind. B. Linens also contributes to that "smelly feet" aroma.

Washed-rind cheeses are easy to identify because of that characteristic appearance. Raclette is one of them; others include (image links here) Epoisse, Saint-Nectaire, Morbier, Pont L'Eveque, Limburger, Livarot, Taleggio, and French Munster. (Basically, if it looks like it's been hanging around the cave way too long and has gotten a bit funky, it's a washed rind.)

Interestingly, there are other cheeses that are dyed on the outside with annato (the same thing used to give orange cheddar cheese its color) to give them an appearance meant to simulate a washed rind; the two that come to mind are American Muenster (simulating the appearance of its French cousin) and Port Salut (an industrial cheese aping an older, handmade washed-rind cheese).

Additionally, the way the cheese is wrapped also contributes to the strength of the smell and flavor the rind contributes. Whole wheels and blocks of washed-rind cheeses are generally wrapped for shipping in waxed paper or waxed paper with an outer cellophane layer. This allows the cheese to breathe, basically, and keeps the cheese from getting too moist on the outside. Unfortunately, most of the time you'll find the Raclette packaged for you to buy is wrapped in plastic wrap or in a cryovac (that thick plastic stuff that laughs at your kitchen knives).

The problem with a plastic wrapping is that it holds too much moisture in. A dry washed rind has a pleasant, rather earthy smell. A wet one smells unfortunately like feet. A wrapping that doesn't allow the cheese to breathe also causes the rind's footy smell to begin to permeate the rest of the cheese, and makes the rind lose its integrity and become unpleasantly soft, slimy and smeary. (It then sticks to your hands like crazy, and makes your hands smell like feet, despite vigorous scrubbing.) The best way to avoid all this is to shop someplace that cuts your piece to order and wraps it in (expensive, French) cheese paper. You'll rarely find that in the real word, unfortunately.

You don't have to eat the rind; in fact, I'd suggest that when it comes to washed-rind cheeses, that you don't. It's fine to just cut it away, and that will eliminate much of the objectionable smell.

In short, it's not mostly a matter or raw milk vs. pasteurized milk cheese; it's really the type of cheese itself that's contributing that footy smell.
posted by jocelmeow at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

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