Cheese Category

Cheese

For substitutions for cheese in general, click here.


Our early ancestors probably discovered cheese when they first used animal stomachs to carry milk. An enzyme in the stomachs called rennet would have caused the milk to curdle and separate into cheese and a watery liquid called whey. People have been tinkering with that basic recipe ever since then, and there are now hundreds of different kinds of cheeses.


Cheese-makers impart different flavors and textures into their cheeses by using different milks, adding various bacteria and molds, aging for different lengths of time, and so forth. The pâte, or inner portion, of a cheese is normally encased in a rind. Natural rinds can be covered or mottled with mold, and they're often edible, though many people find them bitter and salty. Waxy rinds shouldn't be eaten.


Tips:


Always bring a table cheese to room temperature before serving it--the flavor is much better.


Younger cheeses tend to be mild, soft, and moist. As cheeses age, they become more pungent, hard, and crumbly.


Many cheeses become rubbery when cooked too long or at too high a temperature. If you plan to cook with a cheese, select a heat-tolerant one like mozzarella or Emmental.


It's usually best to store cheese in its original packaging. If the cheese has been cut, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to hold in the moisture. If it hasn't been cut, wrap it first with waxed paper and then with plastic wrap--this allows the cheese to breathe.


Store cheese near the bottom of the refrigerator, where temperature fluctuations are minimal. Harder cheeses have a longer shelf life than soft, moist ones.


Most cheeses don't freeze well. One exception is Mozzarella.


Just as you'd ask your fishmonger "What's fresh today?" ask your cheese provider "What's ripe today?" Under-ripe cheeses haven't fully developed their flavor, while overripe cheeses become acidic and unpleasantly pungent. Some overripe cheeses develop a strong ammonia smell.


If a small amount of mold forms on the surface of a cheese, cut it off along with a half an inch of cheese on all sides of it. If mold forms on a fresh or soft cheese, or if there's a lot of it on a firmer cheese, throw the cheese out.


Many lactose-intolerant people find that they can tolerate low-lactose cheeses like cream cheese, cottage cheese, Mozzarella, and Provolone.


Cheese doesn't pair well with citrus or tropical fruits.


Cheese is usually made with pasteurized milk, which has been heated to remove harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, pasteurization also destroys friendly bacteria and enzymes, though some of these can be added back artificially once the milk is pasteurized. Some producers make cheese with raw (unpasteurized) milk, believing that this gives their cheese richer microflora and better flavor and textures.


Varieties:


Fresh Cheeses, Soft Cheeses, Semi-soft Cheeses, Semi-firm Cheeses, Firm Cheeses, Blue Cheeses, and Processed Cheeses.


Cheeses can also be classified according to the type of milk used. Richest and creamiest of all are cheeses made with sheep's milk. Cheeses made with cow's milk have less butterfat, but they're usually cheaper than those made with sheep's milk. Goat's milk lends cheese a tangy, earthy, and sometimes barnyard flavor.



kochkäse, kochkase
kochkäse
This German cheese is easy to spread. It's great on crackers and rye bread.
Learn more
Lagerkaese
This is a strong even stinky cow's milk cheese.
Learn more
Laguiole
Laguiole
This is a mild French semi-soft cow's milk cheese.
Learn more
Lancashire
Lancashire
This is a rich, tangy, and crumbly cow's milk cheese produced in Britain. It's a good melting cheese.
Learn more
Lappi
Lappi
This is a mild semi-soft cow's milk cheese from the Lapland region of Finland. It's a good melter and works well in fondues
Learn more
Leerdammer
Leerdammer
This Dutch cow's milk cheese is similar to Emmental or Jarlberg, only milder.
Learn more
Leicester, Red Leicester, Leicestershire
Leicester
This is an English cow's milk cheese that's very similar to cheddar.
Learn more
Leyden, Leiden
Leyden
This Dutch cow's milk cheese is flavored with cumin and caraway seeds.
Learn more
Liederkranz
This cow's milk cheese was invented by German-American Emil Frey, who wanted to make a domestic version of Limburger cheese. Borden acquired the brand after Frey died, and later sold the brand to a New Zealand outfit. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature. It's hard, and perhaps impossible, to find in the United States.
Learn more
Limburger
Limburger
This is a very stinky and salty German washed rind cow's milk cheese. It's too strong to serve with most wines, so it's often served with beer. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
Learn more
Livarot
Livarot
This excellent French cow's milk cheese is in the washed-rind or "stinky" family. Though pungent, it's not as overpowering as Limburger. The rind is edible, but it's not for faint-hearted.
Learn more
mahon, Mahón
mahon
This well-regarded Spanish cow's milk cheese is a terrific snacking cheese, but it's also incorporated into casseroles. Try it with sherry.
Learn more
Mainzer
This is a German cow's milk aromatic cheese. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
Learn more
Manchego (aged), queso Manchego viejo
Manchego (aged)
Aged Manchego sheep's milk cheese is yellow and a terrific grating cheese. Don't confuse it with unaged Manchego cheese, which is almost white, semi-firm, and typically used as a melting cheese
Learn more
Manchego cheese
Manchego cheese
Don't confuse this with aged Manchego cheese, which is firm and yellow, and typically used for grating. Younger Manchego sheep's milk cheese is sweet and nutty. It melts nicely and is often used in quesadillas.
Learn more
Manouri cheese
Manouri cheese
This Greek sheep's and goat's milk cheese is similar to feta, only creamier and less salty. This is made with sheep or goat’s milk.
Learn more
Maroilles
Maroilles
This is a stinky washed-rind cow's milk cheese from France that smells worse than it tastes. You probably don't want to eat the pungent rind. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
Learn more
mascarpone, Italian cream cheese, mascherpone
mascarpone
Creamy mascarpone is a key ingredient in tiramisu, zabaglione, and cheesecakes. It's velvety soft, slightly acidic, and expensive. It's made from cow's milk. Although Italian in origin, the name is said to come from the Spanish mas que bueno, "better than good." It's usually sold in tubs. Use it soon after you purchase it since it's highly perishable.
Learn more
Maytag Blue
Maytag Blue
This American cow's milk blue cheese is pungent and crumbly. Use it within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
Learn more
mimolette cheese, boule de Lille
mimolette cheese
This French cow's milk cheese is similar to Parmesan cheese, only it's a brilliant orange.
Learn more
Mizithra (aged), Mytzithra (aged)
Mizithra (aged)
Don't confuse this salty grating cheese with fresh Mizithra, which is similar to feta. This cheese is dry, crumbly, and very salty. This can be made from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or both.
Learn more
Mizithra cheese (soft), myzithra
Mizithra cheese (soft)
Don't confuse this with aged Mizithra, which is a hard grating cheese. This can be made from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk or both.
Learn more
Montbriac, Montbriac Rochebaron
Montbriac
This French cow's milk cheese is a mild blue cheese that's soft and creamy like a Brie. It's coated with ash.
Learn more
morbier cheese
morbier cheese
This creamy and mild cow's milk cheese has a dark stripe running up the middle, a reference to earlier times when a layer of ash was added to the cheese to protect it from insects. Morbier has a rich, earthy flavor. It's a good melting cheese, but you might want to cook with a cheaper cheese like Lappi or Havarti.
Learn more
mozzarella
Mozzarella is a soft, white Italian cheese. The most common type is low-moisture mozzarella, which is often sold in bricks or firm balls, or is shredded and sold in bags. Don't confuse it with fresh mozzarella = high-moisture mozzarella, which is a fresh cheese used for salads and appetizers, and is often sold in tubs of water. Low-moisture mozzarella is one of the few cheeses that doesn't turn rubbery or ooze oil if cooked too long or too hot, so it's a key ingredient in pizzas and casseroles. It's also stretchy--the long white strings that you often see draped over the sides of pizza boxes are usually mozzarella. It can also be frozen and thawed without too much damage to its texture. Buffalo milk has a much higher fat content than cow's milk, so buffalo milk mozzarella, or mozzarella di bufalo, is creamier and also more expensive than cow's-milk mozzarella = fior di latte.
Learn more
Muenster, Munster, Münster
Muenster
When produced in Europe, Muenster is a mild-mannered member of the normally stinky washed-rind Cow's milk cheese family, though it becomes more pungent as it ages. It's delicious with dark breads and beer or Gewurztraminer wine. American muensters are much milder.
Learn more
mysost, Primost, brunost
mysost
This a sweet whey cheese that is made with cow's milk and often some goat's milk.
Learn more
Neufchatel, Neufchâtel
Neufchatel
Neufchâtel is very similar in taste and appearance to cream cheese, but it's made from cow's milk instead of cream so it contains less fat and more moisture. Cheesecakes made with it cook more quickly and are more prone to cracking. Use it within a few days after purchasing, and throw it out if mold appears. For best results, serve chilled.
Learn more
Nøkkelost, Nokkelost
Nøkkelost
This Norwegian cow's milk cheese is seasoned with caraway seeds, cumin, and cloves.
Learn more
Oka
Oka
This Canadian semi-soft cow's milk cheese has a mild, nutty flavor and melts nicely.
Learn more
Ossau-Iraty cheese, Ossau-Iraty-Brebis-Pyrenees
Ossau-Iraty cheese
This little-known Basque cheese is made from raw sheep's milk, and it's creamy, nutty, and mellow.
Learn more
Paglietta
Paglietta
This soft Italian cow's milk cheese resembles Brie and Camembert. Use it within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.
Learn more
paneer cheese, Indian curd cheese, panir cheese
paneer cheese
Indians like to serve this bland fresh cow or buffalo milk cheese with spinach or peas. Use within a few days.
Learn more
Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano
parmesan
This firm cow's milk cheese is pungent, nutty, and salty, and it's terrific grated on salads, pasta, or pizzas, or served simply with figs, pears, or crusty bread. The best parmesan is the Northern Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, but less pricy domestic parmesans are also well regarded. Aging increases the price and flavor.
Learn more
pasta filata, plastic curd cheeses, pulled curd cheeses, spun curd cheeses
pasta filata
These cheeses are stretched and pulled like taffy before being molded, which gives them a springy, elastic consistency. It is made from cow or buffalo milk. Unlike many cheeses, they stand up well to cooking. This category includes mozzarella, Provolone, Scamorza, string cheese, and Caciocavallo.
Learn more
pasteurized process cheese
pasteurized process cheese
Look for this in deli counters and in holiday gift packs. This cheese is a blend of fresh and aged cheeses, and it's pasteurized to stop the ripening process. This improves shelf life but impairs flavor. Nuts, fruits, and other seasoning are often added.
Learn more
pasteurized process cheese food
pasteurized process cheese food
This cheese is similar to pasteurized process cheese, but it contains more milk solids and water. Velveeta is a popular brand.
Learn more
pasteurized process cheese spread
pasteurized process cheese spread
This cheese is similar to pasteurized process cheese, but it's moister. Cheez Whiz is a popular brand.
Learn more
Pecorino Tuscano
pecorino
This is a firm and salty Italian sheep's milk cheese that's a close substitute for parmesan. There are three main varieties: Pecorino Romano, which is the best choice for grating onto a pasta dish or salad, Pecorino Toscana = Pecorino Tuscano, which is made in Tuscany, and Pecorino Sardo = fiore sardo, which is produced in Sardinia. Don't confuse Pecorino Romano with other firm Romano cheeses, which usually aren't as well regarded.
Learn more
pepper jack, jalapeno jack
pepper jack
This a version of jack cheese with spicy peppers mixed in. It is made from cow's milk.
Learn more
Petit-Suisse, Petit Suisse
Petit-Suisse
You can buy small six-packs of this rich fresh cow's milk cheese all over France, but they're hard to find in the U.S. Gervais is a popular brand.
Learn more
picon, picón, Picon cabrales, picos de Europa
picon
This excellent Spanish blue cheese comes wrapped in maple leaves. It's moist, crumbly, and pungent. It is a mixture of cow's, sheep's and goat's milk.
Learn more
Pont-l'Evêque, Pont l'Eveque
Pont-l'Evêque
This ancient and well-regarded French cow's milk cheese isn't as stinky as other washed rind cheeses. It's best not to eat the rind.
Learn more
Port Salut cheese, Port du Salut
Port Salut cheese
Port Salut is a mild French semi-soft cow's milk cheese. Don't confuse with Danish Port Salut, which is also called Esrom cheese.
Learn more
pot cheese
This cow's milk cheese is similar to cottage cheese or farmer's cheese.
Learn more
pressed cheese
pressed cheese
pressed cheese Notes: These are cheeses which are pressed to remove moisture during their production, and then soaked in a salt bath and aged. This broad category includes most semi-firm and firm cheeses. During the production of some pressed cheeses, the curds are cooked to expel even more moisture. These firmer cheeses usually have hard rinds, which are sometimes coated with wax. Cooked pressed cheeses include Gruyère, Emmental, Gouda, and Parmesan. Uncooked pressed cheeses aren't as firm. They're often sweet and fruity when young, and they develop a more earthy and grassy flavor as they age. Examples include Cantal, Tommes de Savoie, and Morbier.
Learn more
processed cheese, process cheese
processed cheese
These products combine cheese with gums and stabilizers that improve shelf life but compromise flavor and texture.
Learn more
provolone
provolone
This Italian cow's milk cheese is like mozzarella, only firmer and more flavorful. It's often used in sandwiches and on on pizza. Provolone dolce is aged for up to three months. Provolone Valpadana is aged longer, and has a sharper flavor.
Learn more
quark, curd-cheese, quarg, quark-curd, topfen
quark
This versatile fresh cow's milk cheese resembles soft cream cheese. Germans (who call is quark) and Austrians (who call it topfen) use it to make everything from cheesecake to gravy.
Learn more