“How can you be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese?” Charles de Gaulle

Trying to Categorize Cheeses

The final installment in my intro to Cheese Series.

There is no one set of rules by which to categorize the world’s cheeses. After thousands of years of cheese-making , we still are unable to agree on one set of rules, and here is why !

Some factors are very difficult to quantify – for example the classification relying  on smell. Detection and rating vary from person to person depending on how acute their sense of smell is.

No one category can address all types and nuances. For example, Classification relying on rind alone,puts hundreds of cheeses with no rind in the same category. Another example is classification by aging  that would put a Danish blue cheese and a Farmhouse Brie in the same category.

Traveling between different categories- Cheese is a living thing. Every cheese is released with a certain fat content and certain water content. As the cheese ages these percentages change due to water evaporation.Hence, the same triple creamed cheese , tastes much more pungent a month after you bought it! Moreover, a cheese that was classified as Semi-hard like a dutch Gouda will turn rock hard as it ages.

Knowing this, we can now learn to pick out, describe and appreciate cheeses using the more common categories for classification:


Classification determined by water content:

Very soft- 80 % water , spoonable, includes most fresh cheeses like Cottage cheese, Chevre,Labane.

Soft – 50 %-70% water, spreadable, includes the double and triple creamed cheeses ( Brie , Camembert,Robiola,Taleggio, Colummiers…), but also some feta cheeses( cow’s milk mainly).

Semihard- 40%-50% water, Sliceable, includes Edam,Gouda,Manchego,

Hard- 30%-50% water, very firm and dense, includes Parmigiano Reggiano , Pecorino,Piave,Ossau iraty, Mimolette..

Blue-40%-50% water,a classification within the semi hard group of cheeses,may be sliceable,spreadable or crumbly, includes all blue veined cheeses, like; Valdeon,Cabrales,Roquefort,Gorgonzola…



Length of aging prior to release

Fresh- Unaged, produced and released, include Cottage cheese , Cream cheese, Chevre.

Brief Molding period- 2 weeks-10 weeks, produced and allowed to take shape in a mold ( tub or basket), or for the rind to bloom,includes Feta, almost all blue cheeses and bloomy rind cheeses ( Grayson, Taleggio,Brie…).

Aged-Anywhere between 2 months and 5 years, depending on the cheese, produced and allowed to mature until the cheesemaker deems it fully aged and flavored, includes all hard and semi hard cheeses,like; Parmigiano Reggiano, Idiazabal,Pecorino, Cheddar,Gouda…

Type of Milk

Classification by what animal produces the milk.

The most common are Cow, Goat and Sheep (ewe), but there are also cheeses made with a mix of milk from different animals, and even cheeses from Buffalo,Moose , Camel or Yak’s milk.


Classification by degree of pungency.

A very difficult classification, works mainly for Bloomy rind cheeses like-Taleggio, Robiola, Camembert, Brie…

Method of making

Classification by main cheesemaking traditional methods.

Fresh Cheese-Unaged or ripened,includes some  slightly pressed cheeses( Feta ),whey based cheeses that are only strained ( Urda, Ricotta),and the spoonable, Cottage, Cream cheese,Chevre.

Pasta Filata Cheese- The curds are cooked,then stretched and folded repeatedly before molding or shaping. The cheese is then ready to eat or may be ripened further and even smoked ( Mozzarella, Provolone, Paneer,Kashkaval).

Unpressed Ripened Cheese- The curds are minimally cut and allowed to drain . They are then ripened with mold or bacteria on the cheese surface ( Camembert, Brie,Taleggio…) or using a starter culture that is applied to the surface or inoculated into the cheese ( Stilton)

Pressed and Ripened Cheese- The curds are pressed before ripening.Examples- Manchego, Idiazabal,Cheddar,

Cooked ,Pressed and ripened- The curds are cooked in the whey, then milled, molded and pressed. Then the cheeses are aged for up to 5 years ( Parmigiano Reggiano, Piave, Gouda,Edam,Emmental …)

Processed-After the initial cheese-making process is complete ( See 2nd chapter of this series), more milk and emulsifying salts are added, food coloring and preservatives. This yields a very consistent product, yet unhealthy. Unfortunately ,these cheeses, sold in blocks,slices, tubes and even sprays are  the most commonly consumed type  Americans buy and consume more than any other ( American cheese,Kraft singles,Cheez whiz ….and other varieties of crap!)


Classification by type of rind . The rind of the cheese controls the rate of water evaporation from the cheese, oxidation of the surface and escape of gases from within.

No rind- The cheese is produced and packaged or at most strained,salted and packed .Includes all fresh cheeses,like; Ricotta,Urda,Cream cheese,Feta…

White mold rind- The mold grows on the surface and is edible. The rind is sometimes brushed away a number of times throughout ripening ,so the cheese will develop a thicker rind. The mold is white at first and as the cheese ages it darkens.Includes; Camembert,Brie,Robiola bosina

Washed rind- the rind is washed with alcohol, usually Marc (Grape pomace Brandy ) or wine. The alcohol dries the surface of the cheese and the white boomy mold turns pinkish-Orange. The rind is moist and a has a slightly grainy mouth feel, thus not usually eaten.Includes Taleggio, Robiola Pineta,Grayson,Pont I’Eveque,

Natural dry rind- The rind is in fact the dry outer surface of the cheese.The rind can be brushed, scrape,oiled or wrapped in cloth depending on the desired result.The rind is inedible.includes Parmigiano Reggiano,Cheddar,Piave,…

Organic rind-Leaves, spices and herbs applied to the surface of the cheese after its made.The reason is to impart flavor  and protect from insects traditionally( Fleur de Maquis,Corsican ewe’s milk cheese rolled in herbs & Juniper berries, or Majorero Pimenton -rolled in smoked pepper).another reason is to lock in moisture-(for example; Valdeon-wrapped in Sycamore leaves, Banon)

Artificial rinds-Added after the cheese is made.  inedible. Includes Gouda, Edam                 (wax),Cheddar ( Plastic) and ash edible in St .Maure for example.

So….these are just the main known categories. When I describe a cheese ,I try to use all the categories that apply, focusing on the ones that characterize  the cheese more than others.

One last example. Describing- Morbier

Origin: Comte region, North East France

Milk: Raw or Pasteurized Cow’s milk.

Texture: Semi hard (40 %-50% water), sliceable.

Method of making : Pressed and ripened,with a layer of ash running through the center.

Smell: mild pungenc

Rind: Natural dry  rind,brushed for firmness.

Aging: 2-3 months

Fat content: 45 %

Interesting facts: This cheese was traditionally made for consumption by the cheesemakers themselves. Leftover curds were put in a tub, then covered with ash to repel insects , while waiting for additional leftover  curds from the evening or the next day.

17 Comment(s)

  1. Pharmacy technician jobs in California | Aug 8, 2010 | Reply

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  2. Maya | Aug 9, 2010 | Reply

    wow ahi, your breadth and depth of knowledge never ceases to amaze me

  3. Wordpress Themes | Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    Amiable post and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.

  4. forex trading | Nov 13, 2010 | Reply

    Every time I stumble upon a really good post I go ahead and do three things:1.Share it with all the relevant friends.2.save it in all of the common bookmarking sites.3.Be sure to return to the same site where I first read the article.After reading this post I’m really thinking of going ahead and doing all 3!

  5. Irvin Emond | Nov 26, 2010 | Reply

    Love your site man keep up the good work

  6. financial aid for college | Nov 27, 2010 | Reply

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  7. JasondvRider | Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Awesome blog thank you! You should checkout my site http://motorcycle-fairings.info

  8. Motorcycle Fairing | Dec 1, 2010 | Reply

    Good evening

    Just wanted to show my appreciation for your time and hard work

  9. Seilsottoptut | Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!

  10. Jamie Iomo | Dec 7, 2010 | Reply


    Looking forward to your next post

  11. ecommerce internet marketing | Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    I often don’t post in Blogs however your blog pressured me to, wonderful work.. stunning …

  12. Bet365 Refer Code | Dec 24, 2010 | Reply

    I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have contributed in writing this blog. I am hoping the same high-grade work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skill has inspired me to start my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good model of it.

  13. Autheptessupt | Dec 24, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

  14. Bet365 Games Online | Dec 24, 2010 | Reply

    A splendid article, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little analysis on that. And he in fact purchased me lunch because I discovered it for him. smile.. So let me rephrase that: Thankx for the treat! But yeah Thank you for taking the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and enjoy reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is very helpful for me. Two thumb up for this blog!

  15. Betsson Free Bet | Dec 25, 2010 | Reply

    A brilliant blog post, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he in fact purchased me dinner because I discovered it for him.. :) .. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thankx for taking the time to talk about this, I feel strongly about it and enjoy reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more info? It is highly helpful for me. Two thumb up for this share!

  16. autism symptoms | Dec 29, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  17. James D Despain | Dec 29, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the great post. Page Bookmarked

Post a Comment