This blog post on cheese types is part of our Food Facts blog series meant to expose some of these funny nuances and illustrate why they matter for your food creations. At Whisk, we glean insights from the half a billion recipe interactions that take place on our platform every month. Accurately classifying and grouping ingredients yielded from these recipes are incredibly important in creating better food experiences. In addition to using AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) to help improve our understanding of these nuances, we employ human intellect to train computers on more complicated information that is inherent in food experiences and recipes. Hopefully you learn a thing or two along the way.
We all love cheese, but let’s be honest, do you really know which kinds are made from what type of animal? How about how long they’re aged or their flavor profile? We’re giving you the lowdown on all things cheese so you can be sure to impress your friends at the next dinner party or happy hour.
First, let’s begin with some vocabulary:
- Fresh cheeses are known as “unripened” and do not have a rind because they aren’t aged or fermented. These include cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ricotta.
- Soft cheeses are ripened for a short amount of time and have a moisture content of 50-60% with a soft rind. They are most often with bread since they lose flavor when they are heated.
- Hard cheeses have extremely low moisture and have a salty and rich umami flavor. They are made by soaking freshly curdled milk in a salt bath for three months, then aged for at least 24 months or up to three years.
Below, we’ll describe some essential cheeses you should really know.
- Camembert: A soft, French cheese made of cow’s milk and aged for only three weeks. It has a hard outer rind made of a fungus that resembles the tufted head of a dandelion.
- Cheddar: An English cheese made from cow’s milk, usually aged at least one year.
- Chevre: An un-aged cheese from goat’s milk originating in France.
- Emmental: Also known as “Swiss” cheese, Emmental originates from Switzerland and uses cow’s milk and a specific bacterium that releases carbon dioxide to create its holes. A great melter and is usually aged for four months.
- Gouda: A semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk from the Netherlands. Gouda aged for longer will be hard and crumbly, but ones aged for less time are more mild and creamy.
- Manchego: A Spanish hard cheese made from the milk of Manchega sheep. It’s aged from 60 days to two years.
- Mozzarella: An Italian, un-aged fresh cheese made from cow or water buffalo’s milk.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano: A hard, dry, crumbly cheese made of cow’s milk that can only be produced in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy in Italy, not to be confused with more general “parmesan” cheese made and sold elsewhere.
- Pecorino: A name given to all Italian cheeses made from sheep’s milk. There are four main varieties of Pecorino, Pecorino Romano being one of them, and they vary in flavor depending on their age.
- Romano: An American and Canadian term for a class of hard, salty cheeses, made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk. While Pecorino Romano is an Italian product, this term may be used in the US if the cheese is produced entirely from sheep’s milk.
- Roquefort: A French cheese made of sheep milk and aged for at least five months. It is considered a “blue cheese” as a result of mold which is naturally found in the caves of Roquefort, France.
- Taleggio: One of the world’s oldest soft cheese originating in Lombardy, Italy and aged for six to ten weeks. Its rind is edible and is known to smell of feet.
Now that you know the basic cheese-types, go ahead and create the cheese-y recipe collection of your dreams on Whisk for easy sharing and cooking. We dare you.