Each time you visit a supermarket, there are just so many different cheeses to choose from.
Did you know each cheese has its origin story and a century-old journey that gives it a unique flavor?
You might have made a charcuterie board with mozzarella, a wheel of Brie and camembert, or just plain ricotta for your salad.
The list of cheeses goes on, and the combinations are endless. You can try different types of cheese with condiments and drinks to experience the luxurious taste of each delicacy.
This article introduces some common types of cheese used globally. We recommend some familiar and exotic flavor profiles to try with the cheese of your choice and suitable wine pairing recommendations.
You must have noticed some cheeses are creamy smooth, while others will crumble on touch. Cheese can come from goat, cow, or sheep’s milk.
The country of origin, the grass they graze, and the process of curding all contribute to the range of textures and flavors,
Are you ready to explore hard and soft cheeses and how each contributes to turning your everyday meals into culinary adventures?
Let’s get started!
9 Common Cheese Varieties and Uses
1. Cheddar Cheese
If you can offer people a cheese you know they will not refuse, it is cheddar cheese. With its origins dating back to the 12th century in Somerset, England, this cheese has gained worldwide popularity.
Cheddar cheese is a mild cheese that is crafted from cow’s milk. The milk is curdled, and the whey is removed for the cheddaring process. This process reduces the moisture content of the cheese and allows the acidity of the cheese to come through.
Like all other cheeses, the texture of the cheese depends on the aging process. Aging also allows the flavors of the cheese to be enhanced.
Young cheddar under six months has a smooth and creamy texture with a mild buttery flavor. If the cheese is aged for longer, it builds a complex nutty flavor profile.
Cheddar can be used for multiple culinary options due to its melting properties. When young cheddar is melted, the fat breaks down and leaves a smooth finish. This makes it ideal for cheese sandwiches, gourmet burgers, and macaroni.
The matured cheddar texture is semi-firm and crumbly, making it easy to slice. It is one of the most used cheeses for salads and snacks, such as charcuterie boards. If you love experimenting with new combinations of flavors, experts recommend pairing cheddar with red and white wine or topping it on apple pies.
2. Mozzarella Cheese
Like cheddar, mozzarella is another type of cheese universally known and typically found in every home.
Authentic mozzarella cheese from Italy is processed from cow or water buffalo milk with rennet added as a coagulant for the milk to curdle.
The curds undergo intense processes and are kept in whey and stretched out for the curds to rearrange. This process, called Pasta Filata, is responsible for mozzarella’s unique smooth texture. Keeping the cheese in brine gives it an acidic flavor.
Its milky and mild flavor has made it a traditional staple of Italy. This means you can enjoy it best with Italian dishes based on tomatoes and crusty bread. We know it best as a cheese that gives pizza the cheesy pull. We recommend you try it in salads and enjoy it fresh.
When melted, mozzarella is gooey and gives cheese strings because of its high water content. This makes it ideal for different pasta dishes and an excellent filling for lasagna.
3. Swiss Cheese
The next cheese in line is an American take on the Swiss Emmentler and Baby Swiss. It is commonly known as a cheese with a distinct appearance.
Swiss cheese making is based on Wisconsin milk from cows feeding on grass. The brine mixture has low acidity, which allows bacteria to ferment carbon dioxide.
When the cheese releases water, the gas bubbles remain trapped. These air pockets during aging give it characteristic holes or eyes on the inside.
Despite the holes, the Swiss cheese has a smooth texture and maintains a silky finish upon melting.
The reduced acidity contributes to its sweet and nutty taste, making it perfect for pairing with pretzels, fruits, and salted nuts. The American Swiss cheese has a milder flavor than the Challerhocker or Raclette.
The Swiss cheese is made so that no rind forms on the cheese. When melted, it maintains its eye appearance and allows the chefs to use it for plating experiences.
While the Swiss enjoy this cheese in casseroles and fondue, its mild flavor allows it to be plated with different types of cheese without overwhelming them.
4. Brie Cheese
Next up is the brie cheese from the category of soft cheeses. With its roots in Seine-et-Marne, this French cheese is a farmhouse cheese that owes its flavor to a carefully monitored process.
Brie is typically made from unpasteurized cow milk in France, leading to import bans on food importers in multiple countries. However, variations of this are available for export.
The original Brie is curdled, cut into rounded molds, and allowed to rest for upto four weeks. This allows a spongy natural rind to develop on its outer surface.
Brie is known as one of the creamiest cheeses. This texture and the off-white color are because of the high buttermilk percentage, which gives it a smooth and soft interior.
Bries wheels have a solid buttery and earthy taste. If left to age, it develops a sweet flavor. It is ideal for storing Brie at room temperature owing to its unique partly runny consistency.
Brie is widely used on cheeseboards. A more conventional take is enjoying Brie with fruits, baguettes, and nuts.
It is widely used in pastries because of its buttery profile. Around the world, people serve baked Brie wrapped in warm puff pastries and use brie chunks in casseroles.
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese that’s popular for its mild flavor, creamy texture, and versatility in a wide range of dishes. It is made by curdling milk, typically cow’s milk, with an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar.
The curds that form during this process are then drained of whey, resulting in the lumpy, curd-like appearance that gives cottage cheese its name.
This cheese is highly nutritious, rich in protein and low in fat, making it a favorite among health-conscious individuals. It’s an excellent source of essential nutrients like calcium, selenium, and vitamin B12.
Cottage cheese can be enjoyed in various ways. It’s commonly eaten plain, as a high-protein snack or breakfast item, often topped with fruits, honey, or savory seasonings. It also makes for a great addition to salads, providing a creamy contrast to fresh greens.
Cottage cheese can be used in both sweet and savory recipes, from lasagnas to cheesecakes, adding a creamy and slightly tangy quality to dishes. Its versatility and health benefits make it a staple in many households.
6. Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese is a hard, aged cheese known for its rich, nutty flavor and granular texture. This cheese is often referred to as the “King of Cheeses” due to its exceptional quality and versatile uses.
Parmesan cheese comes in two primary varieties: Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the authentic Italian version, meticulously crafted in specific regions of Italy, following centuries-old traditions. It is aged for a minimum of 12 months, with some varieties aged for up to 36 months, resulting in a sharp and complex flavor.
This cheese is a culinary staple in many countries, gracing pasta dishes, risottos, and salads with its savory presence. It’s grated over spaghetti, sprinkled on Caesar salads, and used to elevate the flavors of soups and stews. Parmesan cheese is also a key player in the world of appetizers, accompanying fruits, nuts, and charcuterie on cheese platters.
Beyond its use in savory dishes, Parmesan cheese surprisingly enhances the flavor of sweet treats. Shavings of Parmesan on fresh strawberries create an exquisite dessert, balancing the sweet and savory notes for a unique culinary experience.
7. Feta Cheese
If you want to add a Greek touch to your dishes, Feta cheese is exactly what you should add. It should be kept in mind that cheese produced in areas of Macedonia and Central Mainland Greece is authorized to be sold as feta.
Authentic feta comes from 30% goat’s milk and 100% sheep’s milk. The last step in the process is submerging it in brine for several weeks, making its taste more pronounced. You will see feta being sold in plastic containers filled with brine to prevent it from drying out.
Similar to other white cheeses, feta does not melt quickly. To truly enjoy the Mediterranean charm of feta cheese, crumble the cheese and top it on your favorite bowl of salad to add tanginess and a zest of brine. Serve it with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.
Feta offers culinary versatility, and it has been a staple in cooking. Feta cheese is cooked into soups to give it a rich, creamy texture, or it can be baked with pasta and risotto.
8. Gouda Cheese
If you were wondering about the oldest cheese to date, Gouda is the one. This Dutch cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a distinct pale yellow color with a waxy rind. Gouda is typically healthy for its high vitamin K content.
The aging process can take anywhere between a few weeks to years, and you may choose it depending on the depth of flavor you enjoy.
Young gouda is soft and creamy and can be served on the table. If gouda is aged for extended periods, it acquires salt crystals, making it crunchy and crumbly. This makes it ideal for grating it or cutting it into slices.
Given the variations in the flavor profile, it is a widely consumed cheese. Young gouda offers a milder taste and resembles that of butter. Crystalized gouda is more pronounced and nutty with a hint of caramelization and butterscotch.
Gouda is another cheese that is served with crackers on the charcuterie board. You can enjoy melted gouda over a warm bowl of macaroni and pasta.
You might be surprised to hear this, but desserts often use gouda. Adding it to cheesecakes and fruit pies balances the sweetness and the nuttiness.
9. Blue Cheese
The blue cheese is so-called because of the blue or blue-green veins on the interior. The family of bleu cheeses has this appearance from edible mold spores of Penicillium roqueforti. It is made from fresh goat or ewe’s milk, depending on the type of blue cheese.
The making of blue cheese belongs to the caves of Southern France, which allowed a diverse texture and flavor profile.
Now, blue cheeses are matured in air tunnels for upto six months. The textures range from firm and crumbly for young cheese to creamy for matured cheese.
Blue cheese is ranked as one of the tangiest cheeses with an intense flavor. You may have to develop a liking for this flavor profile.
However, you can enjoy it best by melting it on ribe-eye steaks and gourmet burgers. Experts recommend balancing the saltiness with something sweet, often made into dips and drizzled with honey on salads.
Bleu cheese comes in different types, such as Gorgonzola from Italy and Roquefort from France, with aromas and flavors of its own.
Did you see how cheese that originates from simple milk has the power to transform cuisines?
Each cheese brings its unique character to the table with a flavorful profile open to culinary creativity.
This blog explores the buttery finish of Brie, the tanginess of feta, and the stretch of mozzarella cheese. The world of cheese is open to interpretations.
If you are a home cook who appreciates fresh cheese or a cheese connoisseur, we encourage you to play with the different textures of cheeses. Know when the cheese has ripened and aged, and enjoy it in its premium form.
Every block of cheese is a delight on its own. We hope you can pick the right type to melt on your burgers and pizzas!