The appearance of a cheese can tell you a lot about the basic characteristics of it, from the strength of its flavour to the taste. The moisture in a cheese will determine the texture, as well as the type of rind or mould it will develop in.
But how do you differentiate between the cheeses? We’ve created a list below of the seven most common types of cheese that are created by modern cheesemakers.
Fresh with no rind
Fresh cheese has no rind on the exterior, meaning they look the same inside and out. Classic examples of this cheese include mozzarella, mascarpone and ricotta, and they are usually made of 19-24% fat.
Fresh cheese is easy to recognise as it is too young to have developed a rind and with the high level of moisture inside, the texture can be stringy like mozzarella, or if salted, it can be crumbly like feta.
They are usually bright white, or slightly yellow in colour, and have a very mild milky taste to them
Aged fresh cheese with a rind
These fresh cheeses are almost always made with goat's milk that has been aged long enough to grow a thin, nearly translucent rind. This type of cheese is similar to fresh cheese and is also made up of 19-24% fat.
As the cheese shrinks, the thin layer of blue-grey mould develops on the outside, creating the rind. When allowed to dry out even more, the wrinkles of the rind become crevasses and the interior of the cheese begins to dry out, creating a rich goaty cheese flavour.
Examples include mozzarella, ricotta and cottage cheese.
Soft white rind
This type of cheese grows a fine white crusty rind of penicillium candidum mould, which helps to ripen the cheese whilst keeping it soft and creamy.
Brie, Camembert and Chevre Log are the most popular variations of this type of cheese.
Cheeses with this kind of rind start out mild, yet sweet when young but they can age to have a savoury, mushroom like flavour. They typically have a fat percentage of 24-26%, and can even be made with extra cream to produce a rich cream cheese.
Semi-soft with a fine to thick rind
This type of cheese includes Edam, Port Salut and Raclette which are most commonly recognised for their rinds.
The cheese curd is lightly pressed in the production process, which removes the whey and creates a rubbery, elastic texture.
They attract a variety of grey, white and brown moulds which are brushed off during the ageing process to build a fine leathery rind. The thinner the rind, the milder the taste, such as Edam cheese. Those with thicker rinds are denser and have a more earthy taste.
This type of cheese typically contains 26-28% fat.
Hard cheeses are pressed for weeks at a time to remove the whey and compact the curd. Traditional hard British cheeses like Cheddar are wrapped in cloth while in Europe they tend to be soaked in brine.
Both techniques are used to seal and protect the cheese from drying out in the curing cellars where they remain for months or even years.
They attract a variety of different colour moulds, which are brushed during the ripening process to reveal a thick, smooth rind.
Popular hard cheeses include Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino and Manchego, which tend to be 28-34% fat.
Blue cheese includes Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola which usually have a fat percentage of 28-34%.
Blue penicillium mould is sprinkled into the vat before the milk has curdled.The curd is then cut, piled into moulds and drained.
The blue needs time to develop so the cheese is pierced, which allows air to penetrate the curd along the tunnels created within the cheese. The pungent taste of blue cheese is due to the reaction between the curds and the blue mould as they age together.
If you love blue cheese, our Cheese Board Boujee Box has a great, seasonally available blue cheese in there to enjoy with perfectly paired chutneys, meats and crackers.
Flavour added cheese
Hard cheeses typically have other flavours added to them such as Cheddar, Wensleydale and Gouda which are commonly paired with fruit, nuts and herbs.
The flavourings are usually added to the cheese from the beginning to create smooth, blended flavours. The fat percentage will vary depending on the type of cheese, but they are usually around 28-34% fat.
Modern cheesemakers play with the rules of cheesemaking, and are not controlled by tradition like they used to be, which is why we have so many new flavours and textures to be grateful for!