Exposing Swiss cheese to hip-hop music could make it taste better

Researchers believe exposing cheese to different types of music could chance how it tastes – but more research is needed.

A woman smells Swiss cheese
A woman smells Swiss cheese

Exposing Swiss cheese to hip-hop music could make it taste better, according to new research.

Researchers placed eight wheels of Emmental in wooden crates and exposed them for more than six months to round-the-clock music or sounds, ranging from Mozart to Led Zeppelin to A Tribe Called Quest, as part of a project called Cheese In Surround Sound.

An Emmental cheese and hip hop fan
(Bern University of the Arts HKB)

A press release from Bern University of the Arts HKB read: “The results are amazing: the bio-acoustic impact of sound waves affects metabolic processes in cheese, to the point where a discernible difference in flavour becomes apparent – one which can even be visualised using food technology.

“Put simply, cheese that has been exposed to music tastes different.”

Nine identical cheeses were placed in special wooden crates and exposed to one of ambient, classical, techno, rock, or hip-hop music; high, medium or low frequency sound; or, in the case of the control cheese, no sound at all.

A cheese judge judges some cheese
(Bern University of the Arts HKB)

The cheeses – which had all come from the same farmers and been processed in the same vat – were tested by both food technologists from the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and a panel of judges in a blind test at a public event on Thursday in Burgdorf.

The food technologists concluded that while the cheeses exposed to music generally had a milder flavour than the control sample, “the cheese exposed to hip hop music displayed a discernibly stronger smell and stronger, fruitier taste” than the others.

On the judging panel, tasters also noted differences among the cheeses, including that those exposed to low frequency sound and hip hop were sweeter.

Nine musical cheeses
(Bern University of the Arts HKB)

Chef Benjamin Luzuy said: “For chefs like me, these results are fascinating. This opens up new avenues for us in terms of how we can work creatively with food in the future.”

Researchers who put together the ZHAW report noted that, while there were differences between the cheeses, they were “minimal”.

“The conclusion that these differences did indeed confirm the hypothesis, namely that they can clearly be traced back to the influence of music, is conceivable, but not compelling,” they said.

A lovely big cheese
(Bern University of the Arts HKB)

More research would be required to determine the link definitively, they added.

The project was a collaboration between Käsehaus K3 and Sound Arts HKB.

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