Spark

Cheese wheels bombarded by music taste different

One cheese wheel listened to The Magic Flute. One to Stairway to Heaven and another got A Tribe Called Quest's Jazz (We've Got). Yet another cheese just hung out in silence. Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler explains why he played a 24-hour loop of music to wheels of cheese — and whether it had an impact on the flavour.

When it comes to Emmental, the rapping may be more important than you think

This cheese just loved A Tribe Called Quest. (HKB)
Listen9:32

This story was originally published on April 19, 2019.

A new study, "Cheese in Surround Sound – a culinary art experiment," recently made international headlines.

Beat Wampfler is the Swiss cheesemaker behind the study. Last year, he and a team of researchers from the Bern University of Arts teamed up to see what kind of impact soundwaves can have on cheese as it ages. Would it taste different depending on what kind of funky music it was exposed to?

The nine 22-pound wheels of Emmental that were placed in Wampfler's cheese cellar for six months (HKB)

"Bacteria are responsible for the taste of cheese," Wamplfer told Spark host Nora Young. "The bacteria are also living like us. They get influenced by humidity, temperature — why shouldn't they also react to music? This was the hypothesis."

Researchers placed nine 22-pound wheels of Emmental in Wampfler's cheese cellar for six months.

Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler (HKB )
The cheeses were exposed to endless 24-hour loops of rock (Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven), classical (Mozart's The Magic Flute) and hip hop (A Tribe Called Quest's Jazz), among other musical genres, while one cheese just hung out in silence.

The cheese was then examined by food technologists. What were their conclusions? The hip-hop cheese came out on top, having a stronger aroma and stronger flavor than the others.

"It seems to be that you need quite a lot of power to influence the bacteria, and a lot of repetition," said Wampfler. "A lot of people described the flavour of the hip-hop cheese as more sweet, with a nice fruity flavour."

The cheesemaker said he was very pleased with the results.

"Bacteria are not stupid little cells that are growing around and eating food and reproducing themselves from minute to minute," he said.

"They also have a kind of communication with each other, and why should it be impossible to influence that with music?"


Taste-testing the cheese (HKB)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.