Many people like (or love!) cheese, but it can be hard to navigate your way around the cheese counter, especially if you’re not a Turophile (Cheese Connoisseur). Many people don’t know how to approach the many choices laid out and are often afraid or unaware of how to find new cheeses they’ll like. You can broaden your cheese horizons by knowing a few basics so next time you encounter a cheese cart or counter, you can navigate it like a pro.
Country of Origin: This means where the cheese was first created. In some cases, the name of the cheese is protected, meaning unless it’s produced with strict methods in a specific region of the world, it cannot bear the name, i.e Roquefort or Manchego. Other cheeses originate from a certain area, but can be produced anywhere in the world, i.e. Gouda. Something to remember is a cheese which has a country of origin but can be made anywhere in the world varies in taste and quality. A cheese which is only made where it originated from will always be consistent.
Type of Milk: The animal the milk comes from can make huge difference in the flavour. Cow milk is the mildest. It’s creamy, sweet taste is very subtle, so cheese made from cow’s milk, needs to be aged and ripened to bring out the flavour. Sheep’s milk has a mild grassy flavour which becomes tangy as the cheese ages. Goat’s milk tastes “farmy” so and cheese made from goats milk usually has a big taste.
Aging: Many cheeses are aged for a period of time in a temperature-controlled environment. Moisture evaporates leading to a denser paste and the longer the cheese is aged, the more intense the flavor. Bacteria work inside the cheese which transforms from grainy and crumbly to smooth and creamy. Eventually a cheese can become grainy and crumbly again when enough moisture leaves (i.e. parmesan). Bacteria on the exterior also enhances the flavour and helps the cheese develop a rind.
There are thousands of cheeses, but with these cheese basics, you will be ready for every cheese counter in the world.