Can Mozart improve your Mozzarella? What will Boccherini do to your Bocconcini? A new report out of Switzerland suggests that the much lauded ‘Mozart effect’ may not only work on children – it can also charge up your cheddar. Students from the Hochschule der Künste Bern and food technologists from ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences teamed up with Burgdorf artisanal cheesemakers Käsehaus K3 to find out if playing music to cheese as it matures affects its taste.
“Each of the eight cheeses maturing at Käsehaus K3 was exposed to a different sound over a period of six-and-a-half months,” said Michael Harenberg, Director of Studies, Sound Arts HKB. “Once matured, the cheeses were analysed by professional food technologists in a sensory consensus analysis and submitted to a panel of highly qualified culinary jurors in a blind taste test. As composers and musicians, it has been thrilling for us to carry out this project in Burgdorf and to develop the acoustic installation. We are delighted with the results.”
One control cheese and eight other wheels of semi-hard cheese were matured in special boxes, with each exposed to either different genres of music – classical music represented by Mozart’s The Magic Flute, hip hop by A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got it From Here and rock by Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven – or low, middle or high frequency sine waves, over the maturation period of six and a half months. The control cheese was not exposed to any sound.
The ZHAW Food Perception Research Group concluded that the cheeses exposed to music had a generally mild flavour compared to the control test sample. The research group’s report also confirmed that the cheese exposed to hip hop music displayed a discernibly stronger smell and stronger, fruitier taste than the other test samples.
While the experiment raises interesting questions, the ZHAW Food Perception Research Group concluded that “more extensive testing is required in order to determine whether there is a link between exposing cheese wheels to music as they mature and discernible sensory differences.”
“This would also require additional levels of standardisation in cheese production,” the report said. “Furthermore, a greater number of semi-hard cheeses would be required to ensure sufficient test material is available.”
Chef Benjamin Luzuy, however, who was part of the tasting panel, was delighted with the results. “For chefs like me, these results are fascinating,” he said. “This opens up new avenues for us in terms of how we can work creatively with food in the future.”