Exploring cheese variety
There are more than 1,800 cheese varieties in the world, falling into several well-known categories.
Hard cheeses are typically of the grating cheese variety – think parmesan, asiago, pecorino romano, and cotija cheese. These types of cheese derive their sharp flavor and crystalline texture from being aged up to two years or longer. Hard cheeses are typically packed in molds and pressed for days or weeks to compress the curd and remove moisture.
The semi-firm cheese variety includes some of the most beloved cheeses, including cheddar, gouda, emmenthaler, edam, and monterey jack. These cheeses are heated, pressed, molded and allowed to ferment for 3-to-9 months. These are also some of the best cheeses for a baked mac and cheese recipe.
The semi-soft cheese variety is made with lightly press curds and has a rubbery, slightly elastic texture. Havarti, muenster, and Jarlsberg are great examples.
The soft cheese variety has interiors that are not pressed or cooked. They have a creamy, velvety texture thanks to high moisture levels and a significant percentage of butterfat.
Fresh cheese varieties are the youngest of cheeses and meant to be consumed within days. With high moisture content and no rind, the texture of fresh cheese can be wet and moist, or stringy, firm, and crumbly. Famous fresh cheeses include mozzarella, mascarpone, ricotta, cream cheese, and oaxaca cheese.
The blue cheese variety, including roquefort and gorgonzola, contain spots or veins of blue-green mold – the result of penicillin cultures added to the cheese during the cheesemaking process.
The soft-ripened cheese variety like camembert is made by exposing the cheese to mold, which gives the cheese its buttery flavor and creamy texture.
Washed-rind cheese variety, also known as stinky cheese, is made by repeatedly washing the rind with a saltwater brine that encourages the growth of a certain bacteria which gives this pungent cheese type its distinctive aroma and earthy flavor.