Molds are mainly used in the manufacture of semi-soft cheese varieties together with the lactic acidifiers. Their major role is to enhance the flavor and aroma and to modify the body and the structure of cheese. On the basis of their color and growth characteristics, they can be divided into white and blue molds. The former type grows on the outside of the cheese (e.g., Camembert and Brie) and is known as Penicillium camemberti. The blue mold is named Penicillium roqueforti and grows inside the cheese. Examples of blue cheeses are Roquefort, Blue Stilton, Danish Blue, and Gorgonzola (50). Several varieties of these two Penicillium species have been described in the past, but they should all be considered as biotypes. The characteristic feature of mold-ripened cheese is the extensive proteolysis and lipolysis. These biochemical activities ultimately result in the formation of precursors for the typical volatile flavor components of the cheeses. Methyl ketones have a key role in the typical flavor. There is a positive correlation between the free fatty acid level and the amount of methyl ketones formed, and cheeses with limited lipolysis score lower in flavor (51,52). Other typical compounds besides methyl ketones are secondary alcohols, esters, aldehydes, and lactones. Various compounds arising from the proteolysis and amino acid conversion complete the aroma of these cheeses. Clearly, the flavor of mold-ripened cheese is a delicate balance of several compounds produced by a succession of microorganisms, which each performs its particular activity. Not only the choice of the Penicillium strain is important for the successful production of the soft surface mold cheeses; selection of the concomitant starters is also crucial.
Geotrichum candidum is used as one of the starters for the manufacture of the Finnish fermented milk viili and Camembert cheese. The starter of viili consists of mesophilic lactococci and Leuconostoc strains with G. candidum. Viili is made from nonhomogenized milk, and the fungus forms a moldy layer on the cream. Its growth is generally limited due to the restricted amount of oxygen present in the container with the fermenting mixture (53). G. candidum is one of the contributors to the flora that plays a key role in the ripening of Camembert cheese. It starts to grow on the surface of the rind of Camembert, Pont l'Eveeque, and Livarot cheeses at the beginning of the ripening process and contributes to typical cheese flavors (54,55). Most notably, G. candidum is known for its potential to form sulfur-containing flavor components, which contribute to the typical flavor characteristics of Camembert cheeses (56-58).
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