Princess Fiona asked me to place my very primitive cheese primer into the resources area. I don't see a category that fits, but will put it here. Know that in this thread, I have just touched on some common cheeses. The world of cheese is vast and varied. Please, anyone who sees this post, add to it with a type, or types of cheese/cheeses, and a description of its flavor and texture, and some of the ways in which you use it. Thanks.
heddar, semi-hard cheese either dyed yellow with natural food dyes, or presented white. Young cheddar (cheddar cheese curds) is squeeky and mellow, with just a hint of the flavor that comes with aging.
Mild cheddar - aged about 6 months, has a very mild acidity (acids give cheese both the curd to turn into cheese, and a slightly sour flavor, and is for people who are just starting to learn about cheese.
Medium Cheddar - usually aged for about 2 years. The acidity has increased, and the cheese has developed a more pronounced and complex flavor. You can taste some of the salt, the acids, and other flavors of the cheese.
Sharp Cheddar - aged 3 or more years. At this stage, the cheese has lost enough moisture to evaporation that the calcium and salts found in the milk have begun to crystallize. They provide a pleasing, soft crunch every now and again. The flavor is intensified and even more complex. It is when cheddar starts to become an amazing cheese. I adore 5 year aged cheddar by a company called Balderson Cheese out of Canada. Their product is award winning, litterally.
Colby - another semi-hard cheese that is always sold medium. It has a flavor similar to cheddar, but is creamier and is wonderful as a snacking, or cooking cheese.
Monterey Jack - a little softer than colby, and always sold white. It is a lightly salty cheese with just enough acidity to make the flavor interesting. It's a great melting cheese and is often combine with colby by the manufacturer to make colby-jack cheese, which I'm not really crazy about. I love both of the cheeses by themselves though.
Muenster Cheese - A white cheese with an orange rind. This is another great melting cheese, but is wonderful as a snack cheese as well. It has a mild, milky flavor, with a delicate balance between the salt, acids, and dairy flavor. It is a great pizza cheese, and is good with fruit or covering veggies. It is one of my all time favorite mild cheeses.
Swiss Cheese - It's so hard to find a good swiss cheese any more. The stores seem to carry only baby swiss, which to me is nearly flavorless, and a waste of money. But if you can find an aged swiss, it is a firm cheese that is complex with hints of acid, sweetness, salt, and bitter, all rolled together to create what has been called nutty. A good Swiss cheese, like a good Parmesano REgiano, or Asiago is a truly wonderful thing. Purchase Swiss cheese from the deli, so you can get a sample. That way you won't spend your money on the tasteless Swiss Cheeses that flood the markets.
Gouda - Similar to Monterey Jack, but firmer in texture. It also has a better flavor in my opinion. Gouda seems to be one of those cheese that people like to add flavors to, expecially smoke. To me, this masks the wonderful, natural flavor of this classic cheese. I don't know anyone who doesn't like Gouda.
Ementeller - a kind of Swiss Cheese- but not so bold as an aged Swiss Cheese
Havarti - a great melting flavor with a rich, almost buttery flavor, again with that characteristic acidity of most cheeses. It is used to make various sauces, and is often mixed with cheddar and mozzarella to make macaroni and cheese. It's also great with strawberries, or made into fondue. It's a favorite.
Cottage Cheese - what can I say about this mainstay. It's great served up as a side dish, with fruit added, or on crisp lettuce leaves. It's great when blended into certain jello salad recipes, it makes a wonderful addition to pasta sauces, especially Marinara, and is very good in lasagna, and maincotti. It has a creamy texture, especially in the small curd varieties. But I like the larger curd cottage cheese, eaten straight up, as a side to my meal. Herbs and spices can be added to it, just as with cream cheese. In fact the flavors are similar. Love good cottage cheese.
Note of warning, some brands of cottage cheese, an I don't know the cause of this, can taste a little bitter. So try different brands. We have found that the 4% milkfat varieties don't seem to have the bitter flavor.
And lest we forget one of the truly special cheeses that comes from the Swiss, Gruyere is a great cheese that is used for snacking, fondue, and various sauces. A round of Gruyere is a thing of beauty.
There are so many more, like Ricotta, or Brick, or Farmer's Cheese, and so many others. There are a thousand different cheeses out there. Some are hard, some are soft, most are somewhere in between. Each has a different flavor and texture that appeals to the taste buds of a hundred different people. I can't presume to tell you what cheeses are best for you. Personally, I'm not a fan of the Stinky Cheeses (yes, that is a category of cheeses). But then again, while I love a great aged cheddar, my DW loves the mild version.
And yes, the price isn't cheap for a great cheese. I have had 15 year aged cheddar that ran for $20 a pound. I have also had an amazing cheddar called Dorset Drum for IGoumet.com for $8 per pound. My favorite 5 year aged cheddar runs $15 per pound. And as I am very adventurous when it comes to food. One year, I bought 1 cheese variety that I'd never tasted before every pay day. This way, I could learn a great deal about cheeses without breaking the bank. Was it worth the money to explore this wonderful stuff we call cheese, you betcha. Now, with online cheese sellers, I'm no longer limited to only what I can find locally.
Just two more cheeses that I have to mention - Yancy's Fancy makes an incredible cheese called Bergenost. It is a semi-soft cheese with a wonderfully creamy texture, and amazing flavor. I have yet to try their XXX sharp cheddar, but it the quality is as good as with the Bergenost, it will be an exemplary cheese indeed.
Like Bergenost, Butterkase cheese is wonderful. It is creamy, almost buttery in flavor and texture, with a medium sharpness. It is wonderful eaten with crackers, or on toast points, though I've been known to just slice off little bits to eat all by themselves. It is another delightful cheese that can be used so many different ways. It can be made into cheese balls, or combined with herbs, or wines of your choice. It melts into ooey-gooey goodness on grilled cheese.
Oh, one more, and I'm going to have to run and hide after this one, I love Velveeta Cheese product. It's not a true cheese, but a cheese product that melts wonderfully and adds great flavor to many other foods. There! I said it. I love Velveeta, and I'm not even ashamed. And though I dearly love a good Parmesano Regiano, or Pecorino Romano, I like that shaker Parmesan/Romano cheese that comes in the green, cardboard cans. It has a distinct flavor, and can be used as a somewhat salty seasoning. It has its place in my kitchen.
Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North __________________
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