Categorizing Cheese

Varieties of cheese can be as diverse as night and day.

So what makes one cheese different from the next?

Length of aging

As a firm or hard cheese ages (comte, reggiano, gruyere, gouda, cheddar), it becomes more flavourful. The cheese condenses and builds calcium deposits, becoming saltier and much sharper. In a soft or fresh cheese (brie, camembert, chevre, ricotta), the cheese becomes over ripe after only one or two months, and will smell of ammonia.


  • Fresh – bocconcini, fresh goats milk
  • Whey – ricotta, ski queen
  • Semi-soft – havarti, muenster, Port Salut
  • Semi-firm – emmenthaler, gruyere, gouda, edam, Jarlsberg
  • Hard – reggiano, Grana Padano, cheddar
  • Soft-ripened – brie, camembert
  • Blue vein – soft ripened cheeses, washed rind cheeses and blue cheeses (cheese in which the presence of mold is a significant feature)
  • Goat or Sheep – While most of the world’s commercially available cheese is made from cows’ milk, many parts of the world also produce cheese from goats and sheep’s milk
  • Surface ripened OR Washed rind – soft (Limburger), semi soft (Oka), semi-hard (Munster), or hard (Appenzeller). The wash rind will impart pungent odors and distinctive flavors to the cheese.
  • Processed – made from traditional cheese and emulsifying salts, often with the addition of milk, more salt, preservatives, and food coloring.