Slip Skin – Camembert’s Nemesis

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For home cheese makers, attempting to make Camembert can seem like pushing the limits of your new cheese making skills directly into the advanced arena.

The reality is, that the actual make of this delicious soft cheese is pretty simple and straightforward, but the ripening and aging period can be a somewhat tense few weeks.

There are a handful of things that can go wrong during the ripening process, a few that will destroy your cheese, others that just make it a bit of an adventure to eat with strong smells and unexpected textures.

The most alarming outcome though, has to be ending up with Slip Skin.

Slip skin, or toad skin as it is also called, is an ugly looking and disappointing defect that can occur on mold ripened cheeses such as Camembert or Brie.

It is recognised mostly by a developing gnarled and bumpy rind, which will start spreading in the first 10 days, and the feeling of the mold covered rind moving or slipping around the centre of the cheese when it is picked up or turned over.

This unsightly and undesirable outcome appears to be caused by a number of factors, including any one of the following:

An overgrowth of the less friendly Geotrichcum spores

These spore cause the ph of the cheese to rise and promote a rapid over ripening of the surface of the cheese to a gooey consistency, therefore causing the ‘slip’.

Fix: Try using Geotrichum Candidum and Penicillan Candidum together or just G. Candidum on it’s own instead as this can create a more stable rind by overrunning the more unruly G.Candidum spores.

Also be sure to adequately dry salt all surfaces of the cheese as this keeps the unfriendly spores in check.

Too high humidity during the initial aging process.

Condensation on your aging container will be a good give away if this is occurring. Not only will your humidity be too high but condensation will also cause water beads to drop onto the cheese, contaminating it and creating too much moisture.

Fix: Maintain 90% humidity and don’t let it increase to 100+. Wipe the containers out twice daily and crack the lids of your containers slightly to let air flow through and keep the humidity down.

Too much moisture in the cheese at the time of aging

If your cheese goes into the aging containers with too much whey still present in the curd, and then you increase the humidity by closing the cheese in, you are very likely to end up with slip skin.

Fix: Ensure curds are properly drained before removing from the molds and dry salt to encourage the release of more whey.

Also make sure your Camembert is properly dry before putting it into the aging container and raising the humidity.

Cheese sitting in whey while aging

This shouldn’t be the case if the curds have been properly drained and the cheese left to sufficiently dry before being put in the aging container but can occur in the early days.

Fix: Make sure to mop up all the whey from under and around the cheeses to reduce moisture and keep the cheese surface dry.

The white mold rind forming too quickly

Again, speeding up the ripening of the surface of the cheese and causing it to ‘slip’ away from the rest of the paste.

Fix: Ripen at temperatures between 8-10c. Too high a temperature will encourage rapid mold growth rather than a growth that supports the ripening of the whole cheese.

 

As you can see, moisture is definitely one of the main variables to control when aging your Camembert but molds can also cause a bit of trouble when they misbehave too.

In addition to the obvious odd appearance of slip skin, your cheese will also likely have a strong ammonia smell if it has been left to ripen once slip skin has taken hold.

This may dissipate after the cheese is left to sit out for a wee while (I recommend at least 20 minutes) but if not, it might be best to give the cheese up and accept you just have to try again.

Slip skin definitely affects the atheistic value of your cheese but all is not lost if you spot slip skin early.

Just cut off the rind, leave the cheese to air for a bit and then enjoy a t on crackers.

 

5 Comments

  1. Nikki OBrien

    Thanks for this info – may just have rescued my first camembert efforts! Between this and the pink mould!! Excellent info and really helpful for us beginners.

    • curdnerd

      Thanks for dropping by Nikki!

      I’m glad you got some helpful information for your first Cams. I hope they turn out well but by all means, come back and ask more questions if you need to.

  2. Calder Bethke

    what would happen if the rind on the camembert cheese broke? say when ‘packaging’ it, is it still ok to let it keep aging for another 30 or so days?

    • curdnerd

      Hi, and thank you for your question.

      While it’s not ideal that you have a damaged rind, I would go ahead and age it anyway. You might find that you have some seepage though as the inside of the cheese ripens, and you may also find that it ripens a bit quicker than usual.

      I always say don’t give up on a cheese until you know for sure it’s a write off : ) So go ahead and age it and drop back and let us know how it turns out!

  3. Pingback: Age Does Matter - Aging Home Made Cheese | Curd-Nerd

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