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Cougar Gold is a cheese made in Washington and is unique in that it is canned. Because of the canning, it lasts indefinitely if refrigerated until opened. I understand that cheese can become more flavorful with additional aging. I am trying to understand how/why cheese that was sealed in an air-tight can and refrigerated would benefit from years and years of aging.

A friend of mine insists that the longer the cheese is kept in the fridge, the more crystallized and better flavored it will be. Their website seems to back this up.

Is this accurate? How long will this last (will the flavor continue to get better, will the amino acid crystals continue to develop)?

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Cheese aging or cheese ripening is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from the microflora to the curd, and others. The enzymatic process is the most crucial process for all cheeses, although bacteria plays a role in many varieties.

You can see the same process with certain cheeses (parmesan, amsterdam): store them properly in the fridge and they will eventually dry out and harden, while the flavor gets more intense. Hard cheeses are already slow to ripen, taking from months to years, so the canning process definitively prolongs this process (since there are no external contaminants and limited oxygen for bacteria to grow).

As with anything, it will stop developing flavor when there's nothing else to develop: the flavor components are all already combined, so ingredients are spent. According to the website you linked it's more than 30 years, it will depend how slow does the development happens, how well sealed it is, temperature variation, etc.

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  • is it safe to say then, it undergoes within the can the same aging process that it would outside the can, just over a much longer time (the process happens slower) and that you could achieve the same crystallization/flavor profile by aging it outside the can in much less time? – USER_8675309 Nov 21 '19 at 19:36
  • @USER_8675309 perhaps in a controlled environment, so it doesn't get moldy by excess of moisture before the flavor development for example. – Luciano Nov 22 '19 at 9:59
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Aging is a process that happens when the water naturally and slowly evaporates from the cheese. I don't think this would happen in a can.

The same reason that you can't age whiskey after is bottled.

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    Wine certainly ages in the bottle. – moscafj Nov 19 '19 at 20:26
  • Thank you for this information, I did some research and you are correct. However, whisky and other spirits do not age in glass bottles. – Croves Nov 20 '19 at 20:01
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    Also, you should know that the aging of cheese is more complex that you state. There is the significant impact of enzymes and bacteria...possibly beneficial molds. It's well beyond simple evaporation. – moscafj Nov 20 '19 at 20:25
  • Absolutely! But I believe we both agree that any of these would not happen inside a sealed can. – Croves Nov 20 '19 at 20:28
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    @rumtscho this is a natural cheese. It is packaged in a can, but it is not processed in any way. You can read about it here: creamery.wsu.edu/cougar-cheese/faqs Given that the producers describe an aging process in the can, I think it is safe to assume that it undergoes the same aging processes as non-canned cheese. – moscafj Nov 21 '19 at 11:25

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