What is hard cheese?
A hard cheese is one where much of its moisture is removed from the curd during the cheesemaking process. Hard cheeses tend to be aged for longer periods of time, which allows more complex flavors to develop.
How is hard cheese made?
The process for making a hard cheese starts off the same way as any other cheese – milk is coagulated to separate solid curd from liquid whey. To make a hard cheese, cheesemakers employ a variety of methods to extract as much moisture from the curd as possible. The curd may be cut into small pieces, heated, pressed, or salted, all of which draw more moisture from the curd to produce a harder texture. Also, hard cheeses are typically aged for longer periods of time – up to 36 months or more – which further reduces moisture and creates more calcium lactate crystals that provide the crunchy texture that distinguishes hard cheeses.
What is cave-aged cheese?
For centuries, cheese was aged in caves, where consistent temperatures and humidity were ideal for allowing certain cheeses to ripen. Typical cave cheeses include many hard cheeses such as cheddars, parmesan, grana padano, and gruyère.