Brick cheese is a cheese from Wisconsin, USA, made in brick-shaped form, also known as a square, which can be considered a rectangular shape. The color ranges from pale yellow to white, and the cheese has a sweet and mild flavor when young, and matures into a strong ripe cheese with age. It is medium-soft, crumbles easily and is somewhat sticky to the knife. Brick cheese is well-suited to slicing for sandwiches, specifically grilled cheese sandwiches, or appetizers and also melts well. Served with corn polenta in the Midwest, where the brick cheese is thinly sliced and caused to melt underneath the polenta and tomato sauce topping.
Brick cheese was originally produced in Wisconsin. The cheese making process was derived from white American Cheddar that is cultured at a slightly higher temperature which results in a marginally higher fat content and a slightly altered protein structure. The resultant "brick cheese" has a slightly softer taste and a distinctly sharper finish.
Brick cheese is made in the form of a large rectangular or brick shape, but may also be named "brick" because the cheese curds are pressed with clay-fired bricks. Cheese producers in Theresa, Wisconsin, use red clay brick in order to produce the consistent texture and even temperament that has made brick cheese popular across the Mid-west and the Northeastern United States.
Brevibacterium linens grows on the surface of brick cheese and is surface-ripened. Brevibacterium linens is also the bacteria responsible for the aging of Limburger cheese and many French cheese varieties. Cheesemakers often refer to the growth of the bacteria as a schmear. The cheese is placed on wooden shelves, then gets washed with a whey and water mixture and turned. After several days the cheese is then packaged.
The US Code of Food Regulations defines what the fat and moisture content of brick cheese must be. This Standard of Identity does not take into account that brick cheese should be surface ripened with B. linens. Brick is an American cheese, made in rectangular loaves, that was first produced in Wisconsin in 1877 by John Jossi, a cheese maker of Swiss descent. The loaf-shaped cheese displays numerous fine holes when it is sliced. When young, it is sweet and mild; after aging, it tastes somewhat like a mild Limburger or cheddar, and has been compared to a Danish Tilsit.
Corynebacterium and Arthrobacter are the necessary bacterial genera for smear cheese ripening. B. linens, while present in many smear cultures, is not typical. All cheeses, regardless of variety, should be well wrapped and kept in the warmest section of the refrigerator. (The refrigerator door is often one of the warmest spots).