Types of Cheeses

  • Ricotta & Other Fresh Cheeses
    • Ricotta & Other Fresh Cheeses
    • Brie & Other Soft Cheeses
    • Mozzarella & Other Semi-Soft Cheeses
    • Cheddar & Other Firm Cheeses
    • Parmesan & Other Hard Cheeses
Ricotta cheese with mint leaves

Ricotta & Other Fresh Cheeses

Fresh cheeses are made from fresh curds that haven’t been pressed or aged and are made up of 80% moisture. These cheeses include ricotta, paneer or mascarpone, and usually have a mild flavour.

Soft brie cheese with basil leaf

Brie & Other Soft Cheeses

Soft cheese can also be called “white mould” or “bloomy rind” cheese. This category includes cheeses such as brie and camembert. They have a white, ripened rind on the outside, but are soft on the inside.

Fresh mozzarella cheese with olive oil, pepper, tomatoes and basil leaves

Mozzarella & Other Semi-Soft Cheeses

Semi-soft cheeses contain between 62% to 67% moisture, creating a soft and creamy texture. Cheeses such as mozzarella, havarti or fontina, make up this category; they can be aged for a range of months and can be washed in brine.

Block of cheddar cheese

Cheddar & Other Firm Cheeses

These aged cheeses tend to be firmer and have a smooth, dense texture. Cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and gruyère fall in this group and have a savoury, buttery and relatively mild taste. Mmmm.

Block of parmesan cheese with basil leaves

Parmesan & Other Hard Cheeses

Hard cheeses, such as parmesan and grana-padano, are firm, have a denser consistency and are aged for longer (between two and 36 months). The longer the aging process, the more flavourful they become.

How is cheese made?

Since there are many kinds of delicious cheese, this process might vary, but they usually start with these simple steps.

Common ways cheese is made

Curdling the milk

...In a good way. Milk is poured into vats where “starter culture” bacteria is added to turn lactose into lactic acid. An enzyme called “rennet” is also added to start curdling the milk (turning it from a liquid to a solid).

Common ways cheese is made

Removing whey, adding salt

Once the curds are formed, whey protein is left behind in a liquid form that is removed from the curds. Once the whey is drained and removed a few times, salt is mixed in for flavour.

Common ways cheese is made

Pressed and aged

Then, the curds are pressed into molds (usually blocks) and aged in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment for months at a time.

How to keep cheese fresh

When it comes to storing cheeses, store them in the crisper in your fridge to preserve their freshness.

Fresh or soft cheese

Fresh cheeses are usually stored in water - it’s best to keep them in their original containers and change out the water every couple of days. For soft cheeses, such as brie or camembert, store in a resealable container. 

Semi-soft, firm or hard cheese

For cheeses such as cheddar, for example, after you remove them from their packaging, wrapping them in wax or parchment paper will suffice. For hard cheeses, such as parmesan, wrapping them in wax or parchment paper and then a layer of aluminum foil will ensure it doesn’t dry out.  Also, make sure it still has room to breathe!

Can you freeze cheese?

Thinking about freezing your cheese to make it last longer? It’s possible if done correctly. Unlike storing cheese in the fridge using parchment paper and letting it breathe, you’ll want to use plastic wrap and something that seals when storing in the freezer (you want to prevent any ice crystals forming). Depending on the cheese, it should be good for at least two months in the freezer.

Learn more about freezing dairy

The Art of Pairing Cheese

Charcuterie board with a variety of cheeses, herbs and spreads

Tips for a Charcuterie board

All about variety
On your board, try to include a range of soft to hard cheese, and mild to strong flavoured cheese.

Flavours
Add contrasting flavours like adding a fig jam to pair with brie cheese, or pickles to pair with a sharp cheddar. You can’t go wrong with a board full of yummy cheeses, so have fun with it!

Cheese board with a variety of cheeses, herbs and spreads paired with wine

A quick guide to cheese and wine

Intensity
Usually, intense wines paired with equally intense cheeses work well. Try Pinot Noir with a cheese such as gruyère.

Red or White?
Red wines tend to pair well with aged cheeses, such as parmesan, while white sparkling wines pair well with soft, bloomy rind cheeses like brie.

Keep it simple
A good rule to follow is to simply pair wines and cheeses from the same region!

Blackbird bakery homemade pie

How to cook with different cheeses

The best grilled cheese
If you’re looking for a good cheese-pull, the meltiest ones are semi-soft ones, such as fontina or asiago.

The best cheese for salads
Fresh cheeses are, with no surprise, best for topping salads. Mozzarella or goat cheese is a great addition.

The best cheese for sweets
Lighter, creamier cheeses, such as ricotta, mascarpone or cream cheese can be sweetened to make classic desserts.

Read more on Savour Ontario

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