The Tiny Insects That Make Cheese So Delicious: An Ode to Cheese Mites

I bet you didn’t know that the tiny things that are often overlooked play the most significant role in the creation of some of the UK's most mouth-watering cheeses. Cheese mites are fascinating little creatures that are often found in aged cheeses. Although they are barely visible to the naked eye, they are an essential part of the natural process that occurs during the ageing of cheese. In this article, we'll take a closer look at cheese mites and explore their role in cheese-making.

What Are Cheese Mites?

Cheese mites are small, soft-bodied insects that are part of the Acari family. They live and breed on the surface of aged cheeses, feeding on the proteins and fats in the cheese. As the mites feed, they break down the cheese's surface, releasing a range of complex flavours and aromas that are unique to each cheese.

Cheeses That Use Cheese Mites For Flavour


One of the most famous cheeses known to be infested with cheese mites is the Mimolette cheese. Mimolette is a hard cheese that is produced in the north of France, distinguished for its orange-coloured rind that is covered in cheese mites. In fact, it’s the mites that give the cheese a unique flavour profile that cannot be replicated with any other cheese-making technique.


Cheese mites are also an essential part of the production of the Stilton cheese, a semi-soft cheese that is produced in the UK. During the production process, the cheese is pierced with stainless steel needles which allows cheese mites to enter the cheese. The mites then colonise the surface of the cheese, creating small tunnels throughout the cheese. This allows air to circulate through the cheese, resulting in the iconic blue mould that even everyday cheese lovers recognise Stilton cheese for.

Aged Vs. Pasteurised Cheeses

The presence of cheese mites is a sign of quality and authenticity in aged cheeses. Pasteurised cheeses are considered by some to be inferior in taste and texture because they eliminate some of the pathogens in the cheese, disrupting the natural process of cheese ageing with mites on the surface. Some prefer the more silky feel and smooth taste of pasteurised cheese, however, it’s important to note that both raw and pasteurised cheeses can be safe when produced under strict safety standards and government regulations.

Although cheese mites may seem like a nuisance, they play an essential role in creating some of the world's most delicious cheeses. They are a testament to the art and science of cheese-making and the unique flavours and aromas that can be produced through natural processes. Plus, they play a significant role in creating the unique and complex flavours that are characteristic of some of the UK's most famous cheeses. If you're a cheese lover, next time you enjoy a piece of aged cheese, take a moment to appreciate the tiny, but mighty, cheese mites that have made it possible!

At Rennet & Rind, we’ve curated a finely crafted collection of artisan cheese that all comes from local farms that make it the authentic way. We’re an award-winning cheesemonger and affineur, and our online store is a treasure trove of the UK’s most unique and highest-quality cheese varieties. If you’d like to try a selection of some of our finest cheeses in one package, try our ever-popular mystery cheese box to have a curated selection of five of our highlights. It’s the best way to taste the pleasures of Rennet & Rind’s acclaimed artisan cheeses.

Older Post Newer Post

  • AB on

    Cheese mites aren’t insects; they are arachnids – hence ‘mites’.

Leave a comment