HOW TO MAKE CHEESE

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Moisture: soft to hard Cheese


Moisture: soft to hard Cheese

Emmentaler
Categorizing cheeses by moisture content or firmness is a common but inexact practice. The lines between "soft", "semi-soft", "semi-hard", and "hard" are arbitrary, and many types of cheese are made in softer or firmer variants. The factor that controls cheese hardness is moisture content, which depends on the pressure with which it is packed into moulds, and upon aging time.

Soft cheese
Cream cheeses are not matured. Brie and Neufchâtel are soft-type cheeses that mature for more than a month.

Semi-soft cheese
Semi-soft cheeses, and the sub-group Monastery, cheeses have a high moisture content and tend to be mild-tasting. Some well-known varieties include Havarti, Munster and Port Salut.

Medium-hard cheese
Cheeses that range in texture from semi-soft to firm include Swiss-style cheeses such as Emmental and Gruyère. The same bacteria that give such cheeses their eyes also contribute to their aromatic and sharp flavours. Other semi-soft to firm cheeses include Gouda, Edam, Jarlsberg, Cantal, and Cașcaval. Cheeses of this type are ideal for melting and are often served on toast for quick snacks or simple meals.

Semi-hard or hard cheese
Harder cheeses have a lower moisture content than softer cheeses. They are generally packed into moulds under more pressure and aged for a longer time than the soft cheeses. Cheeses that are classified as semi-hard to hard include the familiar Cheddar, originating in the village of Cheddar in England but now used as a generic term for this style of cheese, of which varieties are imitated worldwide and are marketed by strength or the length of time they have been aged. Cheddar is one of a family of semi-hard or hard cheeses (including Cheshire and Gloucester), whose curd is cut, gently heated, piled, and stirred before being pressed into forms. Colby and Monterey Jack are similar but milder cheeses; their curd is rinsed before it is pressed, washing away some acidity and calcium. A similar curd-washing takes place when making the Dutch cheeses Edam and Gouda.

Hard cheeses — "grating cheeses" such as Parmesan and Pecorino Romano—are quite firmly packed into large forms and aged for months or years.