Cheese Making and the Varieties of Cheese

The art of making cheese has been handed down from the earliest nomadic herdsmen to the modern day farmer who supplies milk from cows to the factories all over the world. However, the use of milk from other animals such as sheep, horses, buffalo, goats and even yaks are used to make different kinds and flavors of cheese. Cheese is made up of the congealed bits of the protein in milk; this is caused when rennet from the cow’s stomach and an acid like vinegar or lemon juice are added. Often some types of mold are used instead of the rennet when making blue veined cheeses like Roquefort. Cheese will keep longer then milk and when a protective covering like wax is used, it will last longer and be able to be sold when the market is better for that particular type of cheese.

The actual steps in making cheese are fairly simple but there are several important factors to consider. As the milk separates into liquid and solids, the whey liquid is drained and the curds pressed together to release more liquid. After the whey is removed, any additional flavorings, salt and colors are added with the resulting curds are then pressed into a whichever form is desired, usually round molds are used for this purpose.

The texture, flavor and types of cheese varies with what type of milk it is made from and what the diet of the animal was as well as how it is processed. Soft cheeses such as goat cheese have a different texture and taste then that prepared by boiling and stretching such as mozzarella or the cheese that requires years to age and ripen. Soft cheeses do not require much time to cure after processing. Climate too, can make a difference in the taste and type of cheese made, for example cheese made in colder climates like those of European countries do not need as much salt or acidity as cheeses made in the hotter climes like that of the Middle East. This allows the cheeses from European countries to grow mold and develop different textures and tastes. France alone has over four hundred different types of cheese but there are over seven hundred types in Britain.

One of the various techniques used to make cheese requires the curd to be pressed together repeatedly, with less and less water remaining and the mixing process adding smoothness to the texture of the cheese. Gouda, Colby and Edam cheeses are bathed with warm water which reduces the saltiness and acidity of the cheese.

Cottage cheese is an example of the soft cheese that do not contain preservatives and will spoil in a few days if not kept refrigerated; Romanian Cas and Chevre are also examples of this soft cheese type which is distinguished by softness and age. One of the cheeses used in the making of lasagna is Ricotta, it is made from whey and usually not aged. Queso fresco is classified as a fresh cheese that has firm characteristics.

Semi soft cheeses are those like Swiss, Gruyere and Emmental they are aromatic and have sharp flavors. Gouda, Edam and Cantal are often used for snacks because they melt well on bread and taste great. Colby and Montary Jack cheeses are kept in molds for longer periods of time and are classified as semi hard or hard cheeses. However, Parmesan and Pecorino Romano are very firm, aged for a long time and are mostly grated with a fine grater to add flavor to Italian foods and salads.

It is important to try different types and aged cheese in your cooking, you may find exotic kinds that add a great deal to the skill and expertise of cheese making as you make more kinds of cheese to enjoy and give away as unique gifts.