Blue Cheese Can Turn Pink Now?

Changing the color of the mold might change the flavor profile as well.

Blue cheese is named for the color of the veins of mold that run through it—but we might have to start thinking of some different ways to refer to it. That's because scientists have discovered that the cheese's namesake color can actually be manipulated to take on different hues. Blue cheese, it turns out, can run the gamut of colors between white, yellow-green, red-brown-pink, and different shades of blue.

How scientists changed the color of blue cheese

Science Daily explains that a team from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham made the cheesy discovery. The color of blue cheese comes from the fungus Penicillium roqueforti, and that signature blue-green color comes from pigmented spores throughout its growth.

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After studying how the natural color develops, the scientists learned that it's created via a particular biochemical pathway. After some tinkering, researchers discovered how to halt the pigmentation process at certain points. When that happens, the colors can be altered—and by extension, so can the flavor of the cheese.

That being said, one of the team members, Dr. Paul Dyer, professor of fungal biology at the University of Nottingham, says that the newly developed strains don't taste too different from regular blue cheese. "We found that the taste was very similar to the original blue strains from which they were derived," he said.

Volunteers who sampled the cheese during subsequent tests said that lighter-colored strains tasted more mild, while darker ones seemed more intense. As for the cheeses with reddish-brown and light green coloring, the tasters said that there was more fruitiness and tanginess to them. Given how scientifically similar the spores are, though, this might just be perception rather than a detectable flavor difference actually reflected in the cheese.

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I guess it's that color effect: Give me a bright green drink, and I'll probably assume you're handing me a lime flavor. Hand me a red one, and suddenly it's cherry. It's sort of like Froot Loops, where you might think the purple loop tastes different from the orange one, when the truth is, they're all the same flavor. Blue cheese turned pink? What's next, red velvet cake turned yellow? Is nothing sacred any more? Sacre bleu!

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