An In-depth Analysis of 8 Types of Cheese

types of cheese

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Nearly about 4000 years ago, people started to breed animals for the processing of milk. Cheese is one of the happiest accidents and the yummiest ingredient used.

It has been known that nearly every European country has a specific type of cheese. Moreover, the more types of cheese, the more complicated they are. It might seem that all cheeses are similar only to prove it to be a misconception. Every type of cheese is a unique type.

An amazing fact about the rind of the cheese is that it elaborates a great deal about what is beneath. Determining the basic character of all the various types of cheese is a task. This is because only experts tend to know a cheese from its strength of flavor to its age and even its condition.

In 2019, the average American consumed 40 pounds of cheese, which is remarkably up from 35 pounds in 2010!

The Miraculous Discovery of Cheese

In the millennia before the refrigeration of milk products, cheese became the first to preserve milk. Despite not knowing where the first cheese production began, there has been prevalent evidence of early cheesemaking in the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia.

It has been thought that cheese was discovered in 8000 B.C—the time where sheep were first domesticated. The enzyme used to make cheese is called the Rennet which is present in the ruminants—cattle, sheep, etc. This enzyme is naturally present in the stomachs of these animals. These stomachs of these animals were used in the storage and transportation of milk as the stomachs were leakproof. Moreover, in the absence of refrigeration, the milk was naturally curdled into cheese because of the heat of the sun and the presence of rennet.

In a way to preserve the milk, salt was being used and cheese was invented. It is believed that the Romans were fond of cheese in a very delightful manner and enjoyed cheese often. The ancient Roman texts happen to mention this, and the process of cheese-making was considered a form of art. The Romans also relished a variety of cheeses.

The European Cheese History

Apart from the Romans, cheese was a delight to the Europeans as well. As the process of cheesemaking gained the interest of the Europeans, they also started curdling the milk. Since the climate was cooler in Northern Europe, the inclusion of less salt was considered. This in turn gave rise to a variety of cheeses that were much creamier. The cooler climate gave birth to aged, ripened, and blue cheeses. The renowned types of cheese that we are well acquainted with today—cheddar, gouda, parmesan, camembert was first produced in Europe.

Talking about modern cheeses, mass production of cheese began in Switzerland when the first factory was built in 1815. After the scientists discovered the secret of mass production of rennet and industrial cheese, it was produced on a larger scale. Reducing the risks of tuberculosis and other harmful diseases, pasteurization made soft cheeses safer.

Did you know?

In 2020, the 27 countries that make up the European Union produced 10.35 million metric tons of cheese!

America’s Revolutionization of Cheese

A revolution came into the world of cheeses when the Americans invented innovative methods to produce processed cheese. A combination of milk, emulsifiers, stabilizers, flavoring, and coloring along with the natural cheese gives rise to processed cheese. Americans are known to consume more processed cheese than natural cheese because of its ability to melt instantly and consistently in the mouth.

After a brief lookout at history, let us gather some information about the various types of cheese that has made people go crazy. Regardless of the numerous types of cheese, they can be classified based on:

  • Type of milk: Innumerable types of cheese can be from the milk gotten from cows, goats, sheep, or buffalo. Cheese can also be made using a combination of these kinds of milk.
  • Texture: During the categorization of the types of cheese based on its texture, it is often differentiated from soft to semi-soft and semi-firm to hard. Usually, the longer the cheese is aged, the shorter its moisture content and the firmer it becomes.
  • Country or Region: Some cheeses are named after the region where they have been originated from. Let us consider these examples—Parmesan cheese got its name as it originates from the area around Parma, Italy; whereas Gouda cheese gets the name because it was first traded in the Dutch town of Gouda. Moreover, there was an English village named Cheddar in Somerset which thus, gave rise to Cheddar cheese.
  • Age: Fresh cheese is to be eaten right away. However, other cheeses may be aged from a few months to a few years or more.
  • Flavor: Often, cheese is described as having a flavor that varies from mild to extra sharp. Mild cheeses tend to be younger cheeses whereas the harder ones tend to be aged. Sometimes, the cheese also gets its flavor because of the bacteria or mold present during the cheesemaking process.
  • Preparation: Generally, young cheeses are unripened which specifically means that they have no additional cultural value. Mold-ripened cheese such as blue cheese or washed-rind cheeses has some different types of bacteria or mold cultures instituted during the manufacturing process. This ultimately helps in getting a stronger flavor in the cheese. In order to produce a stringy and chewy texture like mozzarella, the pasta filata cheeses are stretched out during the cheesemaking process.

These are just the basic differentiation of the several types of cheeses. Let us now look at the 8 different families that include the types of cheese prominently:

  1. Fresh Cheese:The cheese gets its name because it is a product of the fresh curd that has not yet been pressed or aged. Fresh cheese is also known as ‘unripened cheese.’ This cheese is extremely soft and spready with creamy textures and a mild flavor. Fresh cheese is also regarded as a leaner substitute for cream.
    Similar to the other types of cheese, fresh cheese can be made with several types of kinds of milk and varying quantity of salts. This gives a unique and distinct taste. The texture of fresh cheese is also dependent on the amount of moisture that is drained from the final product. If there is more moisture content, then the result is cream cheese whereas if less moisture is present then cottage cheese is formed.
  2. Pasta Filata:
    Pasta Filata refers to the classic Italian stretched-curd cheese preparation. This was originated in Italy and pasta filata stands for ‘spun paste.’ These are steeped into a hot water bath and later stretched, spun, or kneaded according to the need into different shapes and sizes. This heating and kneading process in the proper alignment of the protein structure of the cheese particles. With the help of this, the cheese is stretched to the desired level when melted.
    A renowned pasta filata is the mozzarella which is perfect for pizza. For longer shelf life, mozzarella balls are either stored in brine or water for fresh eating or packed into bricks. Provolone which is also a type of pasta filata is tied up and air-cured for weeks or months as desired. For added flavor, pasta filata can also be smoked.
  3. Soft-ripened (Bloomy Rind) Cheese:
    This type of cheese is processed in such a manner that the outside of the cheese is ripened whereas the inside is runnier and creamier. Undoubtedly, the soft-ripened cheese has originated in France making brie and camembert the famous from this category. Cambozola cheese is also regarded to be a very tasty cheese belonging to the soft-ripened cheese.
    The most unique feature that distinguishes soft-ripened cheese from the other types of cheese is the wafer-thin white rind of blooming mold. The soft-ripened cheeses are subjected to specific strains of mold, like Penicillium camemberti during a short-aging period. This mold works on the outside in the conversion of fats into aromatic compounds called ketones.
    The flavor profile is maximized when eaten at room temperature.
  4. Semi-soft Cheese:
    The semi-soft cheese category deeply focuses on texture rather than cheesemaking mechanics. This short-aging period results in the moist, flexible cheese that carries a mouth-watering creamy consistency. A classic example of semi-soft cheese with a very mild flavor is Havarti amongst Muenster, Chaumes, and
  5. Washed-Rind Cheese:
    The biggest stinkers in the cheese world belong to the washed-rind cheese. The stinkiest cheese is nearly washed with seawater, beer, wine, or liquor for more than two months.
    The important reason behind the washing of the rind is to stop the mold growth on the cheese rinds. As the washing of the rind with beer or brine prevented mold growth, it also stimulated the growth of bacteria called Brevibacterium linens.
  6. Blue Cheese:
    People who have seen blue cheese always wonder about the spidery blue veins of a ripe Roquefort or Stilton cheese. The blue veins are the result of mold and this type of cheese is treated with mold internally. The mold that brings blue-streaked cheese is called Penicillium roqueforti and is locally found in the caves of Roquefort, France.
    An interesting part of the blue cheese—this mold grows only when exposed to air. During the process of pressing the cheese into molds, it tends to have a white interior. However, during the cheesemaking process, the manufacturers artificially pierce air that catalyzes the mold-growing process.
  7. Semi-hard Cheese:
    Semi-hard cheese is by far the largest category of cheeses available in the market. The flavor of these semi-hard cheeses is gotten from the strain of bacteria presented to the milk and the time duration required for the aging of cheese. The distinctive tang allotted to the semi-hard cheese is mainly gotten by the bacteria which ferments the cheese. The bacteria when added to the milk, converts the natural sugars present into lactic acid. Whereas, the other present bacteria help in the formation of complex flavor proteins.
    The bacterium behind cheddar goes by the name Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris. The ‘sharpness’ of its flavor profile and the hardness of the cheese is particularly decided by the duration of the aging process.
  8. Hard Cheese:
    Low-moisture cheeses like Parmesan, Manchego, and Asiago belong to this category. Their pungent saltiness and rich umami flavor profile are the differentiating factors of hard cheese. Since these are hard cheese; people prefer them to be grated over their food instead of being sliced.
    The cheesemaking process for hard cheese is curdling large wheels of milk and letting them soak in a salt bath for approximately three months. After the water bath, this cheese is aged for at least 2-3 years. Since the cheese forms a thick natural rind it gets a bit difficult to chew but tastes amazingly good when grated into soups and pasta.

Processed or Flavored Cheese:

Apart from these foremost 8 types of cheese, there are processed and flavored cheeses. Some cheese lovers do not consider processed cheese to be a part of original cheeses as they are not a result of the traditional cheesemaking process.
Some people like their cheeses to have an additional flavor and thus add nuts, fruit, or herbs during the manufacturing process. To get an attractive shape, the molds of cheese are pressed after combining the young cheese with various ingredients in a blender.

Mentioned below are the types of cheese along with their fat content and some classic examples.

Types of CheeseFat Content (%)Classic Examples
Fresh Cheese19-24%Ricotta, cottage cheese, queso fresco.
Pasta Filata18-22%Burrata, queso Oaxaca, caciocavallo.
Soft-ripened Cheese24-26%Camembert, brie de meaux, chaource.
Semi-soft Cheese26-28%Edam, reblochon, port salut.
Washed-rind Cheese17-27%Limburger, beaufort, raclette.
Blue Cheese28 – 34%Stilton, gorgonzola, roquefort.
Semi-hard Cheese28 – 34%Gouda, Gruyère, Edam, Swiss.
Hard Cheese28 – 34%Cheddar, pecorino, beaufort, manchego.

Originated in Serbia, Pule cheese is the most expensive cheese in the entire world! This type of cheese fetches about US$600 per kilogram. Despite most of the cheeses are made using cow, goat, or sheep milk, pule cheese is made of the milk of a Balkan donkey. This Balkan donkey is native only to Serbia and Montenegro.

Did you know?

In order to produce one kilogram of pule cheese, 25 liters of milk is needed!

Here are some really interesting facts about cheese:

  • Cheddar Cheese is never naturally orange.
  • The “holes” in Swiss cheese were, until recently, seen as a sign of imperfection and something cheese makers tried to avoid.
  • Back in the 17th century, people started dying cheese orange to fool people into thinking it was higher quality.
  • Today, there are over 2,000 varieties of cheeses.
  • Stilton blue cheese is known to frequently cause odd, vivid dreams.
  • Scientists have successfully created cheese using human bacteria collected from toes and belly buttons.
  • Mice don’t like cheese.
  • The French have a different cheese for every day of the year.
  • Edam Cheese never goes bad, it only hardens.

Some cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss and American, help prevent tooth decay.

Read Full issue: The 10 Prominent Food and Beverage Leaders to Look for in 2021

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