The Cheese Types: what the heck are you eating?

The Cheese Types: what the heck are you eating?

What this is: Learn the 8 different types of cheese

Who it's for: For cheese lovers who want the big picture

There are many, many different ways to organize cheese. Every cheese-eating country has a system that is a little different, and there is no single agreed upon way to divide them—should it be by texture? By process? By milk type, or country, or both? The problem with most of these systems is that they speak to people in the cheese biz, but not necessarily the people that are buying the cheese. While a monger would know the difference between a washed rind and a washed curd cheese, these sorts of categories hardly help the average person who just wants to get some nice cheeses for a party.

Enter: us. We’ve come up with a system we think you will like—in fact our whole business is built on this system! We break cheeses into categories by how they are made and we name them in a way that it’s easy for everyone to understand! While there are always outliers and cheeses that cross categories (because cheesemakers are great innovators), 99% of all cheeses will fall into one of these categories pretty soundly.

Read below for our overview of the 8 types, and dive deeper into each one by following the links.

milky&mild

aka whey cheese 

The most frugal of all, this cheese is traditionally created by pulling the last of the remaining protein out of the whey left from other cheesemaking (often mozzarella). The result is a fresh cheese with small curds that can be transformed into savory or sweet dishes. This cheese can also be made from whole milk instead of whey. 

Tasting notes: mellow to tangy, smooth to chunky

Examples: ricotta

Learn more about the milky&mild cheese type.

 

stretchy&chewy

burrata, a strethcy&chewy cheese (with a little bit of bright&fresh, too)

aka pasta filata 

This cheese has a unique texture that may seem more processed than more than the rest, and that’s because it is. After being cut into curds, it is drained and then placed in warm water and then stretched like taffy (pasta filata means “spun paste” in Italian). This gives these cheeses a bouncy, stretchy texture that’s  perfect for melting or pulling apart (like on pizza, for example)

Tasting notes: fresh to milky, smooth to chewy

Examples: mozzarella, provolone

Learn more about the stretchy&chewy cheese type.

bright&fresh

aka fresh, unaged cheese

Perfect for the impatient cheese lover, these cheeses are meant to be eaten right away so their, well, fresh and bright flavors keep their quality! These cheeses have no rind and can be bright, lemony, and refreshing.

Tasting notes: lemony to salty, smooth to crumbly

Examples: feta, chèvre

Learn more about the bright&fresh cheese type.

 

bloomy&brainy

aka soft-ripened/surface-ripened cheeses

These are your Brie-like cheeses. They have either a downy rind (the bloomy ones) or a wrinkled, brainy-looking one. Just inside the rind you will likely find an oozy layer called the “cream line” that will gradually ripen the whole body of the cheese (aka the “paste”) for a warm mushroomy or a tangy yogurt-like taste. 

Tasting notes: tangy to mushroomy, creamy to dense

Examples: Brie, Camembert

Learn more about the bloomy&brainy cheese type

 

friendly&flexible

aka pressed cheeses

This is the staple cheese category for many. It’s a huge category that includes crumbly English cheddar and great Goudas. If you need cheese for a sandwich, you can't go wrong here.

Tasting notes: subtle to sharp, creamy to salty

Examples: Gouda, cheddar

Learn more about the friendly&flexible cheese type

 

 

smooth&melty

aka pressed and cooked cheeses

This type includes traditional Alpine cheeses with which the curds are cooked before being pressed into its shape. The extra step of cooking the curd makes them perfect for melting in fondue with flavor ranges from nutty to caramelized onion.

Tasting notes: grassy to nutty, supple to hard

Examples: Gruyère, Parmigiano

Learn more about the smooth&melty cheese type

 

creamy&funky

aka washed rind cheeses

These are creamy cheeses whose rinds are washed with brine or potent potables (cider, beer, etc.) The rind on these guys are funky or stinky, while  the body of the cheese (aka the “paste”) will have a savory, umami flavor with a texture that can be anywhere from cuttable to  spreadable to dippable.

Tasting notes: funky to meaty, supple to runny

Examples: Taleggio, Munster

Learn more about the creamy&funky cheese type

 

bold&blue

aka blue cheeses

Whether bold in flavor or just bold in look, cheeses in this type can be polarizing. Their salty creaminess can be the star on a juicy burger or the highlight of a dessert plate. Some people hate these cheeses,  which makes blue fans secretly happy that they don’t have to share.

Tasting notes: sweet to piquant, creamy to crumbly

Examples: Roquefort, Stilton

Learn more about the bold&blue cheese type 

The magic of our cheese type names is that any cheesemonger anywhere in the world will still understand exactly what you are looking for!

 

HOMEWORK
    1. Head to your local cheese shop or grocery store and try the different types of cheese and decide on your favorite(s).
    2. Once you have a favorite type, try creating a board with just that cheese type, but with cheeses of different ages, milk types and/or makers.
    3. Experiment with different Flavor Profiles that pair with that cheese type.
    4. Try creating a board with your favorite cheese from that type and all the pairings from all the flavor profiles to create a Hero Cheese Board.

Downloads

Click the icons to download a pdf of this lesson and our two handy guides: How Cheese is Made and Cheese and Pairing Types.

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