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Types of Cheese: An Easy Guide

Lucky for us there are so many types of cheese in the world to enjoy.

Lucky for us there are so many types of cheese in the world to enjoy.

Sadly, I don’t think any of us could possibly taste them all, but I am willing to try!

I remember being in the supermarket in France once and marveling at the sheer number of cheeses.

They seemed to have every cheese you could think of, but really they were mostly just French cheeses.

It was overwhelming at the numbers of cheeses to choose from; how could you decide?

In this blog I hope to be able to help you categorize some types of cheeses that are out there.

Cheese Categories

There are generally four categories of cheeses, with many cheeses within each category.

I will be looking at some of the most popular cheeses in each grouping first.

The four main categories are, soft, semi soft, hard and blue, with some cheeses crossing over a bit.

Soft Cheeses 

Cheeses like camembert, chevre and brie, are considered soft and are young cheeses.

As a cheese ages, it loses moisture and becomes more and more hard over time.

For example brie is made by putting the cheese in moulds to solidify.

After 18 hours the brie is salted and aged for at least four weeks, keeping the creamy texture.

Some fresh cheese is eaten very close to when it was made giving it  very mild flavors.

Semi-Soft Cheese

This category includes mozzarella, some fetas, and fontina cheeses.

They are cheeses that have been aged a little longer after being produced.

As you can see that a couple of these cheeses, mozzarella, and feta straddle a line between soft and semi-soft.

Some of these cheeses are eaten a few hours after being made, and others are aged longer.

Hard Cheese

The hard variety are cheeses like cheddar, manchego, monterey jack, and emmental.

Hard cheese has more of the whey drained off before the curds are pressed and either waxed or brined.

Hard cheeses are usually aged for two to 36 months and even longer, which intensifies the flavor.

Blue Cheese

This is usually a category in which people either love or hate the flavors.

The taste is created by the injection of mold Penicillium, creating blue veins.

The mold in blue cheese adds a very strong flavor, which can range from burnt caramel to intense spiciness.

A fondness for blue cheese is definitely an acquired taste for most people, where it can take time to get used to.  

Types of Soft Cheese

types of cheese

Camembert

Country of Origin: France

Best for: Pasta

This cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a soft, and bloomy rind.

It is a soft ripened cheese, with a creamy texture, white rind, and considered a table cheese.

Camembert has an intense flavor of deep earthy notes, mushroom, nuts and is a bit fruity.

types of cheese

Chevre

Country of Origin: France

Best for: Risotto 

Made from goat’s milk, and will have a different texture depending on how long it is aged.

When the cheese is fresh it is soft and has a delicate taste to it.

After two weeks a rind will form and the cheese will get more firm, after 4 weeks the cheese will become crumbly.

This cheese can last in good shape for several months if kept under proper conditions.

types of cheese

Brie

Country of Origin: France

Best for: Eating with Wine

This cheese is a cow’s milk cheese that has a similarity in appearance as camembert.

It has the same soft and bloomy rind, but a higher milk fat percentage.

A soft ripened cheese it has a slightly runny consistency with a rich and buttery flavor.

It is considered by many as a delicacy to be enjoyed during a special occasion. 

Types of Semi-Soft Cheese

types of cheese

Feta

Country of Origin: Greece

Best for: Soups/Salads

This originally a sheep’s milk cheese that is increasingly being made using cow’s milk.

It is a white, soft, brined cheese, produced in semi-hard blocks which will crumble when cut.

It feels soft in the mouth, and can have sharp tangy flavor and is used in a lot of different dishes.

types of cheese

Mozzarella 

Country of Origin: Italy

Best for: Pizza/Salad

Mozzarella is traditionally made with buffalo milk.

Cow’s milk is a more common alternative.

High quality fresh mozzarella has a very delicate and rich flavour, and is soft to the touch.

Mozzarella ranges from soft cheese in brine to a harder form that can be grated.

Types of Hard Cheese

types of cheese

Cheddar

Country of Origin: England

Best for: Quesadillas 

Cheddar is a hard cheese that comes in a range of flavors depending on how long the cheese is aged.

Made from cow’s milk, it is a popular cheese, being the most purchased and eaten cheese in the world.

A young cheddar will have a smooth texture which will get increasingly crumbly with age.

Gouda

Country of Origin: Holland

Best for: Mashed Potatoes

This is a cow’s cheese milk that is popular the world over, and known to possess a mild rich flavor.

Gouda is aged between two months to five years, and the longer it is aged the more the intense the flavor will be.

The harder and more dense the texture the bolder the flavors become and the more crumbly the cheese.

Gruyere 

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Best for: Fondue

A cow’s milk cheese with a rich, sweet and nutty flavor that has been made for centuries in the Alpines.

Aged for at least 5 months the flavor will become more intense with longer aging periods.

The texture of this cheese is very smooth and one of the best cheeses for cooking.

Manchego

Country of Origin: Spain

Best for:  Mezze Meals

Manchego is made from sheep’s milk, specifically the Manchega breed making it very distinctive.

It is typically aged from two months to two years, it has a firm yet buttery texture that becomes more crumbly with age.

It has a full, zesty and salty taste to it which becomes more intense with age.

Parmigiano-Reggiano 

Country of Origin: Italy

Best for: Soups & Salads

This is a cow’s milk cheese that is aged for 12 to 36 months, and is ubiquitous with Italian food.

Originating in the Middle Ages it has a gritty texture that is nutty and fruity in flavor.

It takes 550 liters of milk to make one wheel of parmigiano-reggiano which will weigh about 40 pounds.

Monterey Jack

Country of Origin: Mexico/USA

Best for: Mexican Cuisine

Monterey Jack is made of cow’s milk with a mild, creamy and somewhat sweet flavor.

The texture of the cheese is smooth and tender making it a very popular cheese.

Originally made by Mexican Franciscan monks in 1700’s that was made famous by an  American entrepreneur 

Emmental

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Best for: Grilled Cheese

Emmental is a yellow cheese made from cow’s milk with a mild and savory taste often referred to as Swiss cheese.

The cheese that is famous for having holes in it made by carbon dioxide trapped in the cheese during the cheesemaking process.

It is a dense, smooth and hard body with an inedible rind, with holes in it.

Types of Blue Cheese

Stilton 

Country of Origin: England 

Best for: Sauce

A cow’s milk known as the King of English Cheeses is a well known hard blue-veined cheese.

Often stored and aged in caves, stilton cheese has an intense flavor that is often an acquired taste.

A somewhat crumbly cheese that becomes more creamy with age.

Gorgonzola

Country of Origin: Italy

Best for: Pasta dishes

One of the oldest blue cheeses in the world, it is made with unskimmed cow’s milk.

Depending on age it can be soft, crumbly or firm and stands out as a popular blue cheese.

Gorgonzola tends to me less intense, and more mild in flavor than some other blue cheeses.

Roquefort

Country of Origin: France

Best for: Salads

Made from sheep’s milk this cheese makes use of the Penicillium roqueforti which gives it a distinctive taste.

This cheese has a bit of a pungent and tingly flavor to it, and is seen as the King of Cheeses

It is white with blue veins, and no exterior rind and aged for at least five months in caves.

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Hello! I’m Chef Tariq.

I’m a food, travel & lifestyle blogger who is passionate about creating recipes from my Arab American background. I love to travel and share my experiences and top tips along the way.

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Hello! I’m Chef Tariq.

I’m a food, travel & lifestyle blogger who is passionate about creating recipes from my Arab American background. I love to travel and share my experiences and top tips along the way.

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