The Cheese Families

January 30, 2017

 

 

 

You could class cheese by 100 characteristics: type of milk, country of origin, region of origin, size. But the easiest way to me and the most understandable one was to use the cheese making process as a start.

 

Depending on the steps the cheesemaker will choose to do or not to do, it will change the cheese structure, appearance and shelf life. I know it almost sounds like Chineese but after the first example, it will make sense.

 

Fresh Cheeses with no Affinage(Curing)

 

Coagulated milk is drained and sometimes salted. Then it can be put into a mould after coagulation and left to drain by itself (under its own weight) or it can be drained first in a linen gauze and then put into a mould or rolled and shaped as a log.

 

There is no affinage, therefore fresh cheeses don’t have rind. They usually have a high level of water and quite a short shelf life (bacteria develop in water). However, the acid content is quite high.

 

How to recognise them:

Rind: None

Inside: White Colour, Creamy/Crumbly Texture

 

Some examples: Ricotta & Mascarpone (Italy), Faisselle (France)...

 

Science part*:  Fat content usually around 10% on a full cheese, dried matter 15-30%.

 

 

 

Soft Cheeses:

Men decided they wanted to do a bit more.

 

 

Cheese with a Natural Rind:

 

Most of them are goats cheese (I invite you to read the goats cheese family at the bottom of the page)

After being salted, they are left for curing and a natural rind will develop by itself.

 

How to recognise them:

 

Rind: white/beige colour, crumbly appearance (can turn brown and hard with time)

 

Inside: White Colour, soft texture when young, can become dry & crumbly if aged for a while.

 

Some examples: Crottin, Chabichou du Poitou (France)...

 

Science part*: Fat content usually around 20-35% on a full cheese, dried matter 40-60%.

 

Curing*: from 10 days to 60 days or more.

 

 

 

Soft cheese with a bloomy rind:  

Men decided they wanted to do even more...

 

This time the cheese will be salted and then left for a controlled affinage.

Bloomy rind is the result of the introduction of a mould (for instance: Penicillium camemberti) during the ripening process. Back in times, these moulds would have sometimes developed by themselves because of the natural environment in caves & cellars.

 

 

 

How to recognise them?

 

Rind: White bloomy to white bloomy with brownish lines (aged camembert)

Inside: White to beige Colour, Creamy Texture

 

 

 

 

Some examples from France: Camembert (pictured on the right), Brie, Brillat- Savarin (pictured above)...

 

Science part*: Fat content usually around 20-35% on a full cheese, dried matter 40-50%.

 

Curing*: from 12 days to 60 days or more.

 

 

Soft Cheeses Washed

 

Same as above but then the rind got washed with a brine (salted water or/and some spirit, beer, alcohol). This method comes from the medieval times; Monks would wash their cheeses to preserve the humidity of the rind. Washed rind usually gives a meatier taste

 

 

How to recognise them?

 

Rind: golden, yellow, orange, brownish and humid Rind. Sometimes quite sticky.

Inside: White to beige Colour, Creamy Texture

 

 

Some examples: Livarot, Munster (France), Taleggio (Italy)...

 

Science part*: Fat content usually around 20-35% on a full cheese, dried matter 40-50%

 

Curing*: from 12 days to 60 days or more (depending the size of the cheese: munster minimum 5 weeks up to 3 months for large cheeses)

 

 

 

The two types above stay soft because they are not pressed or cooked.

 

 

Blue Cheese

 

The Penicillium (for instance Roqueforti or glaucum…) is added during the coagulation step. Then, after moulding it, cheesemakers will use needles to make holes into it and aerate the cheese. The blue mould that's present into the cheese will feed on that air and green/blue veins will form.

 

 

Guess how to recognize them?

 

Rind: white or/and blue or/and orange rind, with a crumbly or dry appearance with reddish/grey holes/stains

Inside: white cheese with blue/green holes/lines and usually a firm texture.

 

Some examples from France: Roquefort, Bleu Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert (Picture)...

From Italy :Gorgonzola...

 

 

Science part*: Fat content usually around 25-35% on a full cheese, dried matter 50-55%

 

Curing*: from 28 days up to 5 months or more (for instance: Roquefort AOP requires 90 days of affinage)

 

 

Pressed cheeses (Hard cheese)

 

Pressed Cheese Uncooked

 

This is one of the biggest families, there are lots of different cheeses in this category.

 

These cheeses are pressed before or after the moulding phase. Then they are salted or soaked in a salted brine.

 

How to recognise them?

Rind: dry & hard rind. Could be any colour from grey, brown to orange…

 

Inside: uniform inside, with sometimes small holes.

 

Good tips: If you touch the centre of the cheese, it should still be a bit soft. Compare it to the next family, cooked hard cheeses, whose centre is often totally hard.

 

 

Some examples: Cantal, Morbier, Ossau-Iraty, Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie (pictured above & bellow), Saint Nectaire, Fromage à raclette (France), Provolone (Italy)...

 

Science part*: Fat content usually around 20-35% on a full cheese, dried matter 45-55%

 

(The odd one: Tomme de savoie can have a fat content from 10% up to 25% on a full cheese, depending on the type of milk used)

 

Curing*: from 12 days up to 60 days or more (Saint Nectaire AOP has an Affinage of minimum 28 days)

 

 

 

 

Pressed cheeses cooked

 

Another big Family!  

 

These cheeses are stirred for at least an hour at around 50°-54° and then pressed in their mould...

 

How to recognise them?

 

These are massive hard wheels of cheese! You can't miss them!

 

Rind: dry & hard rind. Can be any colour from grey, brown to orange…

 

Inside: uniform inside, with sometimes small holes. They are usually quite hard.

 

 

 

 

Some will start crumbling totally when cutting them (Parmigiano)

Some examples from France: Comté (50kg), Beaufort (20-70kg), Emmental de Savoie (70kg).

 

From 
Switzerland: Gruyère (25-40kg)

 

Italy: Grana Padano 24-40kg), Parmigiano(30-40kg), Asiago (11-15kg) (Italy)

 

Science part*: Fat content usually around 28-40% on a full cheese, dried matter 58-64%)

Curing*: from a month, up to 3 years

 

 

 

Goats Cheese

 

Traditionally most people would give Goats Cheeses their own family. But apart from their different milk, by looking at their process, they can go into most of the categories above:

 

Examples:

Fresh cheese: Fresh goat log

Soft Cheese with a Bloomy Rind: Cabécou (France)

Hard Cheese uncooked:  La Tomme Grise de Chèvre, Chevrottin(France).

 

 

*Science Part/Curing: these data are average and mostly to give you a rough idea per cheese category, then depending on the cheesemaker and the process used, these can vary. It is difficult to give exact figures for something that is mostly an Art and mastered by humans. Any questions or doubt, please contact me.

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