The International Dairy Federation recognizes the existence of about 700 different types of cheeses though different gourmets distinguish different types of cheese. Cheese can be classified in various ways: by methods of making, fat content, texture, animal milk, ageing length, region, country of origin, etc. The most widely used and quite traditional method of classification is based on the calculation of moisture content, fat content and ripening or curing methods. Let us have a closer look at those varieties of cheeses which are the most common among cheese gourmets: fresh, soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, hard, smoked, Alpine, and blue cheeses (Fox et al., 2000).
Fresh cheeses are usually unripened, with short (1-3 weeks) shelf life. They are without rind, and they contain a lot of moisture (80 % is water content). Commonly, cheeses become only better with time passing by. Fresh cheeses do the opposite as they contain such flavor that resembles fresh milk, and with time it only gets sourer. The milk for them is drained and curdled. Fresh cheeses are of bright white color; they are creamy and have a smooth texture with tart, buttery, milky and tangy flavor components. The examples are Mozzarella, Ricotta, Burrata, Petit Billy (Cheese Library, n.d.).
Soft cheeses do not undergo any pressing or heating processes. They are usually aging two months or even less. Water content is 50-70 % (So Feminine, n.d.). In our country, all these cheeses are often pasteurized as they age less than needed. The flavor is tangy and mild. Soft cheeses have furry white rind from the penicillium fungus. The examples are Camembert, Brie, Feta, Bel Pease.
Semi-soft cheeses differ from soft cheeses by aging a little bit longer and having less moisture. The rind is brushed and rinsed with a salted water solution which is enriched with certain bacteria to encourage the appearance of orange fungi. These include Garroxta, Asiago (younger versions), Raclette, Gouda, Port Salut, and Munster (So Feminine, n.d.).
Semi-hard cheeses undergo heating, pressing, molding and fermenting. This allows the appearance of well-known holes in cheese. Semi-hard cheeses are very rich in calcium. They need 3-9 months to mature, sometimes longer. The examples are Cantal, Cheshire, Cheddar, Emmental, Edam, Comte, Manchego, Leerdammerm Gruyere, Red Leicester, Lancashire, Wensleydale, Gloucester, Caerphilly (So Feminine, n.d.).
Hard cheeses age mostly up to two years and possess dry texture and a very rich flavor. The water content is only 30-48 %. With time, they become more pungent and hard. The well-known hard cheeses are Mimolette, Pecorino Tuscano and Romano, Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, Old Amsterdam (Cheese Library, n.d.).
Smoked cheeses are exposed to special smoke for some time. The flavor of smoke permeates the whole cheese. This smoke is usually obtained from burning different kinds of woods. Depending on the wood, the flavor differs. The examples are Smoked Mozzarella, Pavarti and Brezian (Cheese Library, n.d.).
Alpine (mountain) cheese is produced from the milk of animals that live at high altitudes and cold climate zones. Most of them are made of cow milk that is produces in the Alps. Alpine cheeses are primarily hard, though one can find soft versions too. The flavor is herbaceous and nutty. The examples are Fontina Val d’Aosta, Appenzeller, Beaufort (Cheese Library, n.d.).
Blue cheeses contain some special mould which is developed by penicillium cultures that look like blue or green veins in cheese. Blue cheeses age in caves. Because of the mold inside, the flavor is salty and sharp. The texture ranges from soft to semi-hard. Famous cheeses include Roquefort, Fourm d’Ambert, Gorgonzola and Stilton (So Feminine, n.d.).