The 8 Cheese Families
- Soft Cheese with Bloomy/Flowery Rind: Soft-ripened cheese that have not been cooked or pressed that are exposed, sprayed, or injected with mold, ripen from the rind outward (Camembert). The outside forms a chalky, snowy white rind, which peaks out. The pate (interior of the cheese) is typically soft but firm, and varies from creamy white to yellow. Although flavors vary, bloomy rind cheeses tend to be quickly aged, which gives them a mild tangy flavor, thus rendering it a popular cheese for all tastes.
- Soft Cheese with Washed Rind: Very similar to bloomy rind cheeses, they are made much in the same way, but the rind that develops is washed or rubbed off, and is a typically orangey crust (Reblochon).
- Natural Rind Cheeses: Not exposed to mold nor washed (Morbier). This cheese uses its own coating to cover itself.
- Fresh Cheeses: The milk is allowed to thicken, until it separates into whey and curd. The whey is drained, and curd is drained or shaped. Uncooked and unaged curd molded into shapes (fresh goat cheese) or left loose (cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ricotta). It is not matured, and is extremely mild, almost bland in flavor (although flavors vary). Usually unsalted.
- Fresh Soft Cheeses: Unripened cheeses that have water content of 60-82%. Known as fromage blanc in France, these cheeses are made by lactic fermentation and are slowly drained. They normally have a low fat content, usually below 20%. Boursin, and Cervelle de Canut are examples of fresh soft cheeses.
- Blue-Veined/Blue Cheeses: Injected with blue or green mold (Roquefort), this category of cheese is easily recognizable, both visually, and also due to the intense pungency of its aroma. The three most recognizable blues are by far Roquefort, Stilton, and Gorgonzola, which all vary in texture, from highly crumbly, to almost spreadable and smooth.
- Hard Paste Cheeses: Ripened cheeses that have been cooked, pressed and aged for long periods of time (around 2 years or so) until they become very hard and dry (Parmesan, Pecorino Romano).
- Double and Triple Cream Cheeses: Extra cream is added to the soft-ripened cheese. Triple crèmes must have a fat content of at least 75%, double crèmes 60%. Very creamy and rich, and smooth. Some triple cream and double cream cheeses undergo a ripening process, while others do not, but are cured for a few weeks and allowed to develop a bloomy or snowy rind. Examples: Brillat Savarin, Boursault. Occasionally, a blue cheese will fall under this classification if it is enriched with cream as well, such as Bacarian Blue.