Aged Cheese

Everything gets better with aged cheese

Cheese is just like the rest of us – the more it ages, the more compelling it gets. As it grows older, aged cheese develops more flavor personality. It loses the smoothness of youth but gains more interesting textures.

In Wisconsin, we love our fresh cheeses for their sparkling, youthful beauty and mild, tangy tastes. But if we're looking for a cheese to keep us company on a cold winter night, or a cheese with the life experience and gravitas that can charm the taste buds off a roomful of flavor fans, we'll take an aged cheese home any day.

The aged cheeses of Wisconsin

Wisconsin cheesemakers produce a bevy of award-winning aged cheeses. These beauties fall into several categories:

Hard cheeses

Many aged cheeses lose moisture and get harder as they ripen. Hard cheeses like parmesan, aged cheddar or romano are known as grating cheeses, while semi-hard cheeses like emmentaler , asiago, gouda, and havarti can be sliced or grated. These cheeses are delicious on their own, as part of a charcuterie board, or atop any baked dish that wants a flash of flavor.

Blue cheeses

Blue cheese is an aged cheese where bacterium Brevibacterium linens(B. linens) is stirred into the milk during the cheesemaking process. To provide the B. linens with the oxygen it needs to grow, cheesemakers push needles through the curd as the milk sets, creating the iconic blue-green veins throughout the cheese. As the cheese ripens for several weeks or months, it develops the sharp, robust, and tangy flavors that Wisconsin cheesesters covet in blue cheese varieties like gorgonzola, cheddar blue, Dunbarton Blue, and marbled blue jack.

Stinky cheeses

Stinky, or washed-rind cheeses, are a type of aged cheese that develops strong and pungent aromas thanks to the bacteria that cheesemakers cultivate on the rind of the cheese as it ripens. Wisconsin is the only place in the U.S. still producing the famous limburger cheese, along with Wisconsin washed-rind originals like Liederdrantz® and Montague. The Wisconsin-born brick cheese is a milder, but still stinky, aged cheese commonly called the "married man's limburger."

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FAQs: What is aged cheese?

What is aged cheese?

Aged cheese is cheese that is left to ripen for several weeks to several years to develop more flavor and, in the case of many aged cheeses, a firmer and more crystalline texture.

What's the difference between fresh and aged cheese?

Aged cheese loses moisture as it grows older, so it tends to be harder than young cheese, which is usually softer and more pliable. Young cheese is better for melting, while aged cheese is better for adding flavor.

Why does aged cheese have more flavor?

As cheese ages, it goes through several chemical and biological reactions. As the milk sugar lactose in the cheese breaks down into lactic acid, it produces a sharper and sourer taste the longer the cheese is aged. Cheese also undergoes proteolysis, a process where complex long-chain proteins are broken down into smaller amino acid compounds giving aged cheese its nutty, fruity or smoky flavors as well as a crystalline texture in some cheese. Certain cheeses may also have special bacteria and mold cultures added, producing additional flavors as the cheese ages.

Wisconsin aged cheese by the numbers

They say age is just a number as if numbers don't matter. But here are a few numbers we think matter quite a bit when it comes to cheese.

  • 5,552 - that's the number of cheesemaking awards Wisconsin has won – more than any other state or country.
  • 175 – that's the number of years we've been making cheese in Wisconsin, since before we were even a state.
  • 90% – that's the amount of milk made in Wisconsin that goes to making cheese. Clearly, we are the state of cheese.
  • 1,200 – that's the number of licensed cheesemakers in Wisconsin (yeah, you have to have a license to make cheese in Wisconsin – we don't fool around when it comes to cheese.)
  • 2 – that's the number of Master Cheesemaker programs in the world. Wisconsin is home to one of them.
  • 600+ – that's the number of varieties, flavors, and styles of cheese we make, more than anywhere else in the world.

So, when you're looking for the best-aged cheese in the world, just look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese ™ badge on the label. That's when you know you've got a cheese with the flavor, texture, and quality that only time can create.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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