Does Playing Music for Cheese During the Aging Process Change Its Flavor? Researchers Find That Hip Hop Makes It Smellier, and Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” Makes It Milder

Humans began mak­ing cheese sev­en mil­len­nia ago: plen­ty of time to devel­op an enor­mous vari­ety of tex­tures, fla­vors, and smells, and cer­tain­ly more than enough to get cre­ative about the meth­ods of gen­er­at­ing even greater vari­ety. But it seems to have tak­en all that time for us to come around to the poten­tial of music as a fla­vor­ing agent. “Expos­ing cheese to round-the-clock music could give it more fla­vor and hip hop might be bet­ter than Mozart,” report Reuters’ Denis Bal­i­bouse and Cecile Man­to­vani, cit­ing the find­ings of Cheese in Sound, a recent study by Swiss cheese­mak­er Bert Wampfler and researchers at Bern Uni­ver­si­ty of the Arts.

“Nine wheels of Emmen­tal cheese weigh­ing 10 kilos (22 pounds) each were placed in wood­en crates last Sep­tem­ber to test the impact of music on fla­vor and aro­ma,” write Bal­i­bouse and Man­to­vani. The hip hop cheese heard A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz (We’ve Got),” the clas­si­cal cheese Mozart’s “Mag­ic Flute,” the rock cheese Led Zep­pelin’s “Stair­way to Heav­en,” and so on.

Three oth­er wheels heard sim­ple low, medi­um, and high son­ic fre­quen­cies, and one con­trol cheese heard noth­ing at all. But per­haps “heard” is the wrong word: each matur­ing cheese received its music not through speak­ers but “mini trans­mit­ters to con­duct the ener­gy of the music into the cheese.”

That may make more plau­si­ble the results that came out when a culi­nary jury per­formed a blind taste test of all the cheeses and found that they real­ly did come out with dif­fer­ent fla­vors. Accord­ing to the pro­jec­t’s press release, a “sen­so­ry con­sen­sus analy­sis car­ried out by food tech­nol­o­gists from the ZHAW Zurich Uni­ver­si­ty of Applied Sci­ences” con­clud­ed that “the cheeses exposed to music had a gen­er­al­ly mild fla­vor com­pared to the con­trol test sam­ple” and that “the cheese exposed to hip hop music dis­played a dis­cernibly stronger smell and stronger, fruiti­er taste than the oth­er sam­ples.”

Or, as’s Jason Daley sum­ma­rizes the find­ings, A Tribe Called Quest “gave the cheese an espe­cial­ly funky fla­vor, while cheese that rocked out to Led Zep­pelin or relaxed with Mozart had milder tests.” Cheese-lovers intrigued by the pos­si­bil­i­ties implied here would be for­giv­en for think­ing it all still sounds a bit too much like those CD sets that claimed a baby’s intel­li­gence could be increased by play­ing them Mozart in the womb. But if Cheese in Sound’s results hold up to fur­ther scruti­ny, maybe those par­ents — at least those par­ents hop­ing for a funki­er child — should have been play­ing them hip hop all along.

via Smith­son­ian Mag

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Cheese: 10,000 Years in Under Six Min­utes

How to Break Open a Big Wheel of Parme­san Cheese: A Delight­ful, 15-Minute Primer

Music in the Brain: Sci­en­tists Final­ly Reveal the Parts of Our Brain That Are Ded­i­cat­ed to Music

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

Leo Tolstoy’s Fam­i­ly Recipe for Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Enter the The Cor­nell Hip Hop Archive: A Vast Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tion of Hip Hop Pho­tos, Posters & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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