Cheese Types and Varieties
Dairy comes in different forms and states. As a liquid, it takes the form of milk. Moving closer to a solid, it is yogurt and butter. And, lastly, as a mostly solid it takes the form of cheese. In today’s blog, we’ll explore the latter’s various varieties, flavours, and textures. Plus, how it’s made.
What is Cheese?
Cheese is a dairy product derived from milk and produce in a wide range of flavours, textures, and forms. It comprises proteins and fat from the milk of cows, buffalos, goats, or sheep. It is considered an ancient food whose origins predate recorded history. Historians propose the date to be around 8000 BCE when sheep were first domesticated.
How to Make It
- The first step in cheesemaking is separating the milk into solid curds and liquid whey. This is done by acidifying the milk and adding rennet. The latter helps to set the cheese into a strong and rubbery gel.
- At this point, most soft cheese are essentially complete: they are drained, salted, and packaged. For the other varieties, manufactures cut the curd into small cubes: allowing water to drain from the individual pieces. Then, they heat up the product to force more whey from the cut curd.
- It is now time to add more flavouring! But, salt not only adds flavour but also: stops the cheese from spoiling, draws moisture from the bird, and firms the texture.
- Additionally, other techniques influence the texture and flavour including: Stretching (mozzarella and provolone) where the curd is stretched and kneaded in hot water; Cheddaring (Cheddar and other English varieties) where the cur curd is repeatedly piled up, pushing more moisture away; and Washing (Edam, Gouda, and Colby) where the curd is washed in warm water, lowering its acidity and thus making for a milder taste.
- Lastly, the product must be ripened from anywhere between a few days to several years. Here, microbes and enzymes transform its texture and intensifies flavour.
Different Types and Varieties
We now know how cheese is made. But, what are they various forms and flavours it comes in? Check out some of the types and their varieties!
This type is firm to the touch, dense, and savoury. It has a complex flavour with strong notes of hazelnut and sautéed butter. Additionally, these cheese posses a thought rind that is hard to eat on its own.
- Parmesan. This Italian variety is sharp, intense and full-bodied in taste. Aged for at least a year, its texture becomes granular and crystallised over time.
- Pecorino. Another Italian classic made with sheep’s milk. Its texture is either soft or firm depending on how long it’s been aged.
- Manchego. Coming from La Mancha, this nutty variety has light touches of sweet fruit and spice. Like pecorino, it also uses sheep’s milk.
Having the perfect balance between moisture and aridity, these cheese posses a firm yet slightly spraining texture. A blend of savoury and tangy flavours pairs with this qulality. Unlike the hard variety, their rinds are edible all the way through.
- Cheddar. An English treasure, cheddar matures anywhere between 2 months to over 2 years. Thus allowing for a diverse range of textures and tastes.
- Gouda. This lightly beige-coloured body comes from either sheep, cow, or goat milk. It has a sweet and nutty flavour.
- Havarti. Diners love this gentle Dane’s creamy consistency. It offers a smooth and subtle taste.
Made by introducing bacteria into the process, this product offers a creamy yet crumbly texture. Additionally, they have no rind. Instead, the flavours usually found around the exterior exist across the entire body.
- Gorgonzola. Versatile in its flavouring, this white and blue marble stands out on any cheeseboard.
- Stilton. Slowly opening with creamy and nutty specks, this variety follows with a delicate finish. Additionally, it is less moist than other blue cheeses. Thus, resulting in a stronger and more intense flavour.
- Roquefort. Made from sheep’s milk, this French classic has a moist body lace with small blue pockets.
Like blue mould processing, white mould culture is added to the curd. Thus, causing a white bloom to grow on the surface. Then, the product ripens in 4 to 9 weeks — the longer its stored, the softer it becomes.
- Brie. Adored for its mild nature, this French delicacy is buttery and rural in taste.
- Camembert. Aromatic, creamy, and sweet in its flavours, this variety is more intense than a Brie.
These are the fresh curds which are not pressed or aged.
- Feta. Greek in origin, this goat and sheep milk mix offers tangy and salty notes. This pairs deliciously with its creamy crumbly texture.
- Mozarella. Authentically made with buffalo milk, mozzarella is springy, dense, moist and velvety. This accompanies a light aroma of rich cream.