Cheese is one of the most common foods consumed throughout the world. Every country has its varieties and its own style of creating this versatile food. This gooey, salty goodness, adds so much depth to a recipe. You can find it in many dishes such as pizza, in burgers, on nachos, in sandwiches, stuffed in chicken, and even grating on top of a salad. It can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and has so many different types, it's almost impossible to try them all.
There are soft cheese, semi-soft cheese, semi-hard cheeses, hard cheeses, white cheese, yellow cheese and so many more. In this article, we will be discussing several types of cheeses. With so many different types we had to narrow down to the top 7 types of cheese.
Many people believe that cheese was first discovered around 8000 BC. It was said that the first cheese was a white variety made from sheep's milk. Its origin is linked to Egyptian times, the legend is that cheese was accidentally made when milk was stored in containers made of animal stomachs. This history story behind cheese showed that the stomachs contained enzymes that then caused the milk to curd and the whey was then separated, which in turn created cheese. There are so many stories linked to how cheese was made it is hard to know exactly who was the first to make it and when. The type of cheese story you decide to believe will not change how tasty this food is.
What is Cheese?
Commonly made from dairy, cheese is made into a variety of flavors, textures, and shapes. You can find cheeses made from a variety of different animal milks. Cows, buffalo, sheep, goats, and even camel milk are used to make cheese. In the simplest forms of cheese, 4 ingredients are used to produce this delicious food. The ingredients are milk, salt, bacteria, and rennet. As with many food items that contain bacteria, this is a natural good bacteria with health benefits. They are often washed rind and go through a similar process to create flavors and textures. Cheese is a fantastic culinary component and with so many different types of cheese out in the market, it is almost guaranteed you can find your favorite types of cheese.
How is Cheese Made?
Each origin of a certain cheese type can say their cheese making is the best way! But there are several ways to make each type of cheese and each cheese is unique in some way. Below you can find the easiest process, that covers the basics. There is no doubt that making your own fresh cheeses is the most satisfying, so give this a try. The process of making cheese involves eight basic steps.
- Choose fresh warm milk that you are accustomed to, this will be the base. the fresher the milk the better the end product will be. You can use store-bought milk and warm it or getting it straight from the animal will be warm enough.
- Acidify- The goal is to change the acidity level of the milk in order for the process of turning the liquid milk into a solid. This occurs when a started culture is added to the milk. It is the lactose that turns into a lactic acid once the culture is added.
- Coagulation- The solidity starts by curding or coagulating. This is the step where the rennet, or enzyme, is added to the milk to began the coagulating process. Rennet comes in two forms, a paste or liquid, both work in the same way when added to the milk.
- Curd & Whey- As the 3rd step is in the process it will start to produce curds and whey, by separating the two from each other. Milk contains both and when separated the liquid part of the milk is the whey and the curds are the solid form of the milk. During this process cutting of the curds is required. Try and cut the curds into 1/2" pieces. The smaller you cut your curds the drier your final cheese product will be. The smaller pieces will also take longer to dry and age. As you cut the curds, they will continue to release the whey. As the curds cook you will then see them began to shrink. Continue to stir the curds for 10-15 minutes, slowly. Try to keep the curds intact as best as possible.
- Cooking-This is the drying phase where the curds are cooked then drained of the whey. The drying process began by slowly raising the heat 3-5 degrees every 5 minutes. Stir the curds until they become firm. The more solid the curds become the better the cheese and fewer liquids in your final product.
- Salting- The salting phase begins with the preservation of the cheese. Salt is added for flavor and for preservation purposes. The salt can be added directly to the curds or even used on the cheese wheel as a rub.
- Shaping- Now it is time to start shaping your cheese. Typical shapes are rectangular blocks and circular or wheel-shaped. Use a mold that has holes at the bottom so that the excess whey can be drained. The cheese is then pressed down into the mold and some may even use weight to maintain the pressure to remove liquids.
- Ripening phase-The cheese will begin its aging process. The temperature and humidity are key during this process. Each cheese is watched carefully and is aged at several rates depending on the flavor and texture you desire. Some are washed with brine, injected, or rubbed with beneficial mold and some even go through an alcohol wash. During this phase is when the cheese will either become a soft-ripened cheese, semi-hard, or any other variation.
Depending on the cheese, the aging process can take anywhere from 3 months to several years. During this time the cheese will undergo several changes to become that tasty goodness we get in the stores. In the last step, the cheese will get its rind if that style of cheese calls for it. The rinds are often a washed rind, white rind which falls under the bloomy rinds, and there is also natural rind cheese.
How Many Types of Cheese are There?
There are roughly 7 types of cheese with each one having several varieties. Mainly made of cows milk, these types of cheese can range from being grated on food, melted in a sandwich, or even mixed into a dip. From hard cheeses to semi-hard cheeses and even the soft cheeses all have a popular flavor we all crave. Some countries have over 400 varieties of cheese. These types of cheeses reflect these textures such as some of the favorite common cheeses like cheddar, Gouda, Monterey jack, Parmesan, blue cheese, cream cheese, and mozzarella. Below you will find these 7 types of cheeses and a description as to the characteristics of each one.
1. Fresh Cheese (no rind)
2. Aged Fresh Cheese
Aged fresh cheeses are usually cured in a cave or cellar to ripen for over 6 months. Some varieties of aged cheeses only require a few weeks to age. These different types of aged cheeses are usually sharp, hard, and/or firm. These cheeses can be found as cheddar, gouda, parmesan, gruyere, manchego, asiago, gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Grana Padano. Aged cheeses are said to be easier on the digestion tract making them a good option for those who are lactose intolerant. The lactose found in milk is broken down during the aging process making it easier for lactose-intolerant people to digest. Sometimes these types of cheese are rubbed or injected with beneficial molds that help the cheese slow down the oxidation process.
3. Soft White Rind Cheese
These white, soft, cream-colored cheeses may sometimes have a thin white fuzzy layer covering the outside. The outside of this type of cheese is commonly known to be flavorless, but the inside flavors range from buttery, garlic, earthy, and mushroom. The part of the cheese closest to the rind will begin to ripen first. a few examples of soft-ripened cheeses are brie, truffle tremor, Humboldt fog, Pierre Robert, and la tur.
4. Semi-Soft cheese
Most semi-soft cheese is creamy, smooth, and has no rind. They come in a variety of flavors that may be a bit more pungent than other varieties, but yet these semi-soft cheeses are a bit more liquidy than other types of cheeses. They are typically a white cheese that can withstand heat, so they are great for cooking, but can also be used in desserts. Some types of semi-soft cheeses are Oaxaca cheese, provolone, Havarti, Monterey jack cheese, blue cheese, Munster, and Limburger.
5. Hard Cheese
This hard cheese variety is a tightly packed cheese that ages for months if not years. The moisture levels are very low which is why the cheese in this category is made into a semi-hard cheese. Examples of hard cheese are cheddar, gouda, Colby, parmesan, and manchego. One of the hardest cheeses in the world is chhurpi which is made of yak's milk and some may say it's hard as a rock. This cheese is typically made in the mountain of Nepal.
6. Blue Cheese
The blue cheese variety is not for everyone. Different kinds of blue cheese can be sharp, strong, and tangy. One of the strongest blue cheese varieties in Roquefort. It's slightly creamy with a crumble like texture that presents itself with a pungent smell. Although many people may dislike blue cheese, there are beneficial enzymes that can help with digestions. These enzymes help to breakdown the milk proteins. The unpopularity of this cheese may be due to the butyric acid found in blue cheese. This type of acid forms when the mold begins to form on the cheese.
7. Flavour Added Cheese
-Almost all varieties of cheese have their own unique flavor properties. Soft cheese, hard, cheese, semi-soft cheese, and creamy cheese can all have certain flavors added to them to create a new distinct flavor. You can find cheeses with fruit, herbs, and a variety of ingredients.
When you ask what are the 7 types of cheeses, you can't help but ask the follow up to that; what art the different types of cheese rinds. Cheese rinds are the outer layer of the cheese. You can consider these as the skin of the cheese These different types of rinds vary in color and texture. Dry rind cheese is those varieties such as cheddar cheese, chevre, and Roquefort. The rindless or natural cheese rinds are usually, wax paper, cloth, or brown paper. Natural rinds are often found on semi-hard cheeses or semi-firm cheeses. Cheese with natural rinds is those such as parmesan, cheddar, and some french styles of cheese.
They are usually brushed with water or oil before the cloth or paper is put around it. Cheddar cheese is one of the most common and is often wrapped in lard cloth. Cheeses like brie, that are soft-ripened are often covered in a white rind. This white colored fuzz that surrounds the cheese is used on soft-ripened cheese varieties and it is caused by a bacteria that is sprayed on the cheese as it ages. These white cheese varieties are carefully watched so that the mold stays consistent and does not turn bad.
A washed rind type of cheese usually is brushed with a liquid that usually consists of salt brine, wine, beer, or brandy. These are mostly the semi-soft cheese and soft-ripened varieties like Munster and gruyere that are usually considered the stinky cheese styles. this washed rind process allows for the good bacteria to grow. This type of washed rind is edible although there are some varieties of wash rinds that might not be palatable.
Some other rinds you might find are those coated in a wax rind. This type is cheese is dipped into a wax right before the aging process began. One common wax rind cheese is gouda. This cheese has a mild flavor and is a semi-soft cheese. The washed rind is used to prevent pests from penetrating the cheese as well as to help the cheese maintain its shelf life during the warmer months. This type of rind is not edible so remember to remove the wax outer coating before serving or cooking.
.All cheeses have their own unique texture that can be used in different ways. These are only some types of cheese varieties and there maybe even more. Since this milk made food is so common, so many countries are developing ways on how to create cheese. There are these classic cheeses, but new types of cheese are developed often. Cheese has evolved into non-dairy based assortments made out of nuts seeds and even an item called nutritional yeast.
What is Soft Cheese?
Soft cheeses are an unripened cheese that can last in refrigerated for up to 2 weeks once opened. You often find soft cheeses in a variety of your favorite foods. Cream cheese, fetta cheese, gorgonzola, ricotta, Brie, and cottage cheese are all part of the soft types of cheese category. With soft cheese, it has to be drained of its liquids at a temperature of 72 degrees. If the temperature of the soft cheese during this process is too high the yeast will not accurately grow and if too low the cheese will have a difficult time draining the excess whey.
Soft ripened cheeses are an exception to the unripened soft cheese variety and these include brie and camembert. Like all the other cheeses it is made with milk and acid with added spices and flavors to create your favorite soft types of cheese. Soft cheeses unlike their counterparts, semi-hard cheeses, are often unripened and the aging process is slightly different.
Semi-soft cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, and Havarti differ slightly from soft cheese because they are aged a little bit longer than the soft-ripened cheese. Some cheesemakers even turn the semi-soft cheeses into soft cheese just by changing the length of time the cheese ages. This type of cheese is easily consumed by those who have mild lactose intolerance. The cheese doesn't become as hard and has less lactose making it easy to digest over hard cheese varieties.
Nutrition of Cheese
Some cheese varieties high in saturated fats, if consumed regularly can lead to heart disease by raising LDL, bad cholesterol levels. Certain cheeses are also very high in sodium making them the less likely choice for those on a sodium restrictive diet or those who have blood pressure issues. Eating high amounts of specific varieties can lead to increased risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. In order for the positives to shine, choose your cheese wisely, and make sure to look at the sodium, fat, and sugar content. There are also some allergen risks.
We mentioned lactose intolerance, but there are also some people who have allergies to casein, which is another protein found in milk. These allergy symptoms can be bloating, hives, wheezing, diarrhea, nausea, or cramping. Make sure to find out if you are allergic to milk or research the cheese before consuming it.
Many people find it difficult to give up cheese when they start to diet. This is due to the salty, gooey, creamy flavor that cheese gives our food. Some people also enjoy eating cheese on its own in the form of string cheese. Cheese can be found across the globe, but what are the health benefits? Cheese is full of calcium which is very important for our bone, teeth, blood pressure, and blood activity. There are also high amounts of vitamins A, B12, zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. The most nutritious varieties come from grass-fed animals that contain omega 3's and vitamin K.
Out of all the different types of cheeses, mozzarella is the healthiest. This is the soft, white cheese variety that is high in moisture but not limited to this cheese variety. Other healthy cheeses are blue cheeses, Monterey jack, cottage cheese, and gouda just to name a few. Below you will find our list of healthy cheeses as well as the reasons that make them healthy picks.
Top 5 Healthiest Cheeses
It is soft, moist, flavorful, and is one of the most common white cheeses we know today. It contains probiotics, that it naturally accumulates while it cures. These probiotics may improve immunity, fight inflammation, and promote good gut health. Mozzarella is one of the cheeses lowest in sodium and calories.
Another healthy variety of cheese that contains 100 calories per 28 grams. It is high in calcium, low in carbs, and contains protein. It can promote bone health and may even reduce the likelihood of succumbing to osteoporosis. Blue cheeses are one of the more beneficial hard cheeses.
An amazing semi-hard cheese that you can often found in Greek types of food. It doe tend to have a bit more sodium than some cheeses, but it does have health properties. Although, this cheese it a full-fat variety, it contains amounts of conjugated linoleic acid or better known as CLA. CLA has been linked to assist in weight loss as well as improve the way our body stores fat. There are only 80 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat in 28 grams of feta.
A soft, white, and textured type of cheese that is the choice for bodybuilders and those alike. This cheese contains high amounts of protein and is low in calories, that is why cottage cheese is often consumed by health enthusiast. Cottage cheese contains 120 calories, 12 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, and 3 grams of carbohydrates in a serving.
Cream cheese is considered the common breakfast cheese. Many people enjoy cream cheese on their bagels, but there are so many benefits to this cheese. This creamy soft cheese has been around for centuries. There are a variety of flavors made with different types of fruit, herbs, and flavorings. You can find chives, strawberries, caramel, and garlic found in different cream cheese recipes. In 1 tablespoon this soft cheese provides 50.8 calories, 5 grams of fat, .8 grams of carbohydrates, and .9 grams of protein.
Another great white cheese used frequently in Italian cooking. It is considered to be a part of the hard cheeses category and it also has a crumbly, strong flavor. It is often known as Parmesan and is commonly made in Northern Italy where it has been made for centuries. Since this cheese is low in lactose it is easy for those who suffer from the inability to breakdown milk proteins. These types of hard cheeses can often be grated and crumbled to add on the top of your meal. Parmigiano Reggiano in one tablespoon has 22 calories, .2 grams of carbohydrates, 1.4 grams of fat, and 1.9 grams of protein. It is high in calcium and phosphorus making it excellent to provide bone health properties.
With so many choices why not try them all! There is a cheese for every palate and dietary need. Cheese is so versatile and you can always find a recipe that will fit any cuisine. From France to the U.S., there are over 400 varieties you can experience. Some are stinky, some are sharp, others are soft and sweet, no matter the flavor or smell all these varieties have their own unique fans who flock to them over and over again. Although, there are some health risks of consuming cheese in abundance, remember that cheese also can provide some health benefits.