Types of Cheese

Cheese is a fascinating food that boasts a long history dating back thousands of years. Connoisseurs know that there is a wide variety of cheeses available that can be paired with sweet and savory foods and drinks. Anyone who is curious about the basics when it comes to types of cheeses and the common varieties found within these categories can read on for more information.


Age is often the biggest factor that is focused upon when cheeses are divided into categories. Fresh cheeses are made when milk is curdled and the whey is separated from the curds. Ripened cheeses are allowed to age in order to develop the texture and taste of the cheese. These cheeses are typically categorized according to the moisture content found in the resulting cheese when it is ready to be eaten.

Popular fresh cheeses: Cottage Cheese; Mozzarella; Queso Fresco
Popular aged cheeses: Parmesan; Pecorino Romano

Cheese School 101
Cheese 101 (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

Moisture Content

As noted above, the moisture content sets apart different types of aged cheeses. Semi-soft cheeses are ideal for pairing with a crostini or cracker. Medium-hard cheeses tend to be used for melting into or on top of dishes, and hard cheeses are intensely flavorful. Hard cheeses may be used sparingly to add a pop of flavor to a dish. For example, Parmesan is often sprinkled on top of pastas as a finishing touch.

Popular semi-soft cheeses: Havarti; Muenster
Popular medium-hard cheeses: Gruyère; Gouda
Popular hard cheeses: Cheddar; Colby

Animal Source

The milk that is used to create cheese can be sourced from a variety of animals. While cow milk is the traditional type of milk used in cheeses, milk from goats, buffalo and even sheep can also be used. Different types of milk create a unique taste experience.

Popular cheeses from different animal sources can be found in any variety.

Cheeses Formed With Mold

Mold may be used to develop a unique flavor and texture in a cheese. Some cheeses are covered in a bacteria that forms a rind and leaves the soft cheese inside. Other cheeses have bacteria introduced throughout the cheese for a strong flavor that is ideal in small quantities.

Popular mold cheeses: Blue Cheese; Brie; Camembert

English: Several cheeses with a slicer, bread ...
Several cheeses with a slicer, bread and milk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cheeses Using Brines

Brining a cheese allows it to have a long shelf life and keeps the cheese from molding in warm, moist climates. The resulting cheeses are salty, fresh and crumbly.

Popular brined cheeses: Feta; Halloumi


Processed cheeses are made with traditional ingredients and preservatives that allow these cheeses to have a long shelf life. The excess amount of salt and preservatives found in these cheeses makes it possible for the food items to be stored without refrigeration for long periods of time while remaining in the packaging.

Popular processed cheeses: American; Shelf-Stable Snack Cheeses

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