Basic Course in Cheese Tourism

Chapter : Types of Cheese

There are several types of cheese, with around 500 different varieties recognized by the International Dairy Federation. The varieties may be grouped or classified into types according to criteria such as ageing, texture, methods of making, fat content, animal milk, country or region of origin, manufacturing methods, special characteristics, etc. The method most commonly and traditionally used is based on moisture content, which is then further narrowed down by fat content and curing or ripening methods.

Fresh Cheese: These cheeses are uncooked and un-ripened as well as mild and very moist with a soft texture. Some examples of fresh cheeses include: feta, ricotta, cream cheese, and cottage cheese.

Semi-soft Cheese: Semi-soft cheeses have a very buttery and smooth taste and are mild and moist. Examples include: fontina, gorgonzola, and Gouda.

Soft Cheese: These cheeses are event softer than fresh cheeses and are known for theircreamy texture and ability to be spread easily. Boursin, brie, and bel paese are three examples of soft cheese.

Natural Rind: Natural rind cheeses have a rind that naturally form as the cheese comes in contact with air during the aging process.  Their texture is dense and they are usually aged for a longer period of time. Stilton and Tomme de Savoie are two of the varieties.

Hard: Hard cheeses are aged for a very long time and are the driest variety. They normally have a very strong flavor and are mostly consumed in a grated form to add to the flavor of several dishes. Asiago, parmigiano-reggiano, and pecorino romano are the most common types of hard cheeses.

Bleu (blue): Bleu cheeses are known for their moldy appearances. This is because they are injected with a specific strand of mold called penicillium roqueforti or penicillium glaucum. They have a very distinctive taste and smell, and people who like this type of cheese often have an acquired taste for it. St. Agur and Big Woods Blue are two types of this moldy cheese.

There are numerous types of cheeses, and we've sought to provide information on commonly sought or popular cheeses.

Goat Cheese: Goat cheese is made from goat milk. Goat cheese comes in a wide array of forms. It has higher proportion of medium-chain fatty acids which contributes to the characteristic tart flavor of goat's milk cheese. It is also called ‘chevre’. When chèvre is served hot, it is known as chèvre chaud. Because goat cheese is often made in areas where refrigeration is limited, aged goat cheeses are often heavily treated with salt to prevent decay. As a result, salt has become associated with the flavor of goat cheese, especially in the case of the heavily brined feta. Goat cheese has been made for thousands of years, and was probably one of the earliest made dairy products. Goat cheese softens when exposed to heat, although it does not melt in the same way many cow cheeses do. Firmer goat cheeses with rinds are sometimes baked in an oven to form a gooey, warm cheese, which is ideal for spreading on bread with roasted garlic, or alone.

Cheddar Cheese: Cheddar cheese made from cow’s milk and is one of the most popular types of cheese in the world. It originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and constant temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. Cheddaring refers to an additional step in the production of Cheddar-style cheese where, after heating, the curd is kneaded with salt, cut into cubes to drain the whey then stacked and turned. Strong, extra-mature Cheddar, sometimes called vintage, needs to be matured for up to 15 months. The cheese is kept at a constant temperature often requiring special facilities. As with other hard cheese varieties produced worldwide, caves provide an ideal environment for maturing cheese; still, today, some Cheddar cheese is matured in the caves at Wookey Hole and Cheddar Gorge.

Gouda Cheese: Cheese from Gouda is an orange cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands. This is a sweeter cheese as the curd is washed and pressed into circular moulds for several hours. These moulds are the essential reason behind its traditional, characteristic shape. The cheese is then soaked in a brine solution, which gives the cheese and its rind a distinctive taste. The cheese is dried for a few days before being coated to prevent it from drying out, then it is aged. Gouda is exported in two varieties: Young Gouda cheese, and Old Gouda Cheese.  Young Gouda cheese is aged between 1 and 6 months, is a rich yellow in color and with a red or yellow paraffin wax coating. Old Gouda cheese has a pungent underlying bitterness, yet is considerably creamier; is strong-tasting cheese and is hard and often brittle.

Mozzarella Cheese: Mozzarella is an Italian Traditional Specialty Guaranteed food product. The term is used for several kinds of Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting which gives it this name. In Italian, mozzare means "to cut". It is a soft white cheese with a mild flavor typically made from milk of cow / buffalo. Fresh mozzarella is generally white, but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal's diet. It is a semi-soft cheese and due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the same day it is made.  Mozzarella of several kinds are also used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes, such as lasagna, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in insalata caprese.

Danish Blue or Danablu: This is a strong, blue-veined cheese. This semi-soft creamery cheese is typically drum or block shaped and has a white to yellowish, slightly moist, edible rind. Made from cow's milk, it has a approx 25% fat content and is aged for eight to twelve weeks. Danish Blue has a milder flavour characterised by a sharp, salty taste. Danish Blue is often served crumbled on salads or as a dessert cheese with fruit. In Denmark, it is often served on bread or biscuits.

Swiss cheese is the general name for numerous types of cheese that were initially prepared in Switzerland. It is also known as Emmental. Swiss cheese is made from cow’s milk.

American Cheese: American cheese is a processed cheese. It is orange, yellow, or white in color and mild in flavor, with a medium-firm consistency, and melts easily. American cheese was originally only white, but is usually now modified to yellow. In the past it was made from a blend of cheeses, most often Colby and Cheddar. Today’s American cheese is generally no longer made from blended cheeses, but instead is manufactured from a set of ingredients such as milk, wheymilk-fatmilk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, and salt.

Feta Cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the world, and is said to be a genuine product from Greece.  

Asiago Cheese is a nut-like flavoured cheese that is originally named after a region in Italy where it was first created.

Cream Cheese is considered to be a fresh type of cheese due to the fact that it is not aged. It was invented by the Americans in the state of New York in 1872.

Fontina Cheese is originally from Valle d’Aosta in Italy, and is made from cow’s milk. It is somewhat creamy and has a pale yellow interior with very small holes.

Mascarpone Cheese an Italian cheese manufactured from milk which has been altered with cream. The fat content of mascarpone cheese is extremely high.

Vegetarian Cheese is cheese that is not curdled with rennet, which is an enzyme that exists naturally in animal stomachs. Rennet is the popular name used by cheese makers.

Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is a cheese curd product with a mild flavor. It is drained, but not pressed, so some whey remains and the individual curds remain loose. The curd is usually washed to remove acidity, giving sweet curd cheese. It is not aged or colored. Cottage Cheese is also called as Paneer and is very popular in South Asia.