Glossary of commonly used terms
Ammoniated - some overripe cheeses (especially soft ones like Camembert and Brie) develop this Ammonia smell (similar to bleach).
Aroma - the smell of a particular cheese, from lightly aromatic to ferociously overpowering. Though not always, strong smelling cheeses are usually strongly flavoured.
Barnyardy - a term usually used to describe the taste and aroma of hay/straw, the best example of this is probably goat's cheese.
Bleu - French name for blue veined cheeses.
Bloomy or Flowery Rind - A light 'down' of mould, a result of the cheese being cultured with a light spray of penicillium candidate spores.
Brushed by Machine or hand - the process of brushing the rind of naturally rinded cheeses for moisture and flavour while they are maturing.
Casein - the milk protein that solidifies once coagulation (setting) takes place.
Cheddaring - technique of stacking and turning curds at the bottom of the vat every 10 -15 minutes for 1½ hours.
Close Smooth - unblemished texture, free of holes or cracks.
Cooked - used to describe hard cheeses, the curd is cooked by being heated at a high temperature and then pressed to extract the maximum amount of whey.
Creamy - yielding texture and rich taste.
Curdling - coagulation of the milk by introduction of rennet.
Crumbly - condition of cheese that breaks away when cut - parmesan, fetta & blues.
Dry Matter - what remains once moisture is removed - Parmesan is largely dry matter, Camembert is still 50% moisture.
Earthy - distinctive characteristic used to describe full flavoured cheeses usually with musty, natural rinds.
Fat Content - indicated on the packaging. Ranging from 4% to 75% but on the average about 33%.
Fresh Cheese - unripened cheese e.g. Cottage, Ricotta Cream Cheese and Curd.
Gruyere - one of the best known Swiss cheeses. Also general name for large French cheeses eg: Beaufort, Emmentaler, Comte.
Hard - used to describe cooked cheeses with a low moisture content, eg - Parmesan or Cheddar
Holes or Eyes - caused by cultured bacterial activity, these round holes give distinctive character to Gruyere and other Swiss types.
Lactic - milky aroma, and sometimes flavour of certain cheeses (tart and citrus tang).
Micro-organisms - yeasts and fermenters naturally present in milk and milk curd.
Moulds - use of penicillium candidate results in exterior white mould, while penicillium glaucum or roqueforti create internal moulds used to create blue vein.
Mushroomy - used to describe the flavour and aroma of soft and semi- softs eg: Camembert and Brie. Reminisent of Field Mushrooms.
Nutty - used to describe a character in hard cheese, usually swiss and dutch. (hazelnut flavour and aroma).
Open - cheese with openings or holes in it.
Paraffin - wax protective outer coating. eg: Red wax on Edam.
Pasteurisation - heating of milk to sterilise and kill bacteria.
Paste - interior of a cheese.
Pronounced - descriptive term for dominant flavour or aroma in a cheese.
Piquant - sharp tasting.
Rennet - substance which contains a milk coagulating enzyme. Found in calves' stomachs or as a vegetable extract.
Rind Natural or artificial - external surface of cheese designed to protect the paste, allow it to ripen and develop to the desired flavour.
Skimmed milk - milk from which part or all cream is removed.
Starter - bacterial culture which produces lactic acid - tastes like yoghurt.
Supple - used to describe the texture of cheese, firm but not hard, pliable and resillient.
Tangy - sharp, distinctive, flavoursome.
Texture - largely dependent on moisture content. Harder cheeses have less moisture, softer cheeses more.
Washed Rind Cheeses - describes a process of regular rind washing of cheese while being ripened, with washes as varied as brine to brandy. This keeps the cheese moist and supple and contributes to the final flavour of the cheese. Some of the strongest smelling and flavoured cheeses have washed rinds.
Cheese Types and Classifications
The 7 Types of Cheese
Unlike wine or animals, the character of cheeses can be judged by a glance at their rind.
Fresh Cheeses – (no rind)
Only 1-15 days old when eaten, they have no time to develop a rind and only a subtle ‘lactic’, fermenting fruit flavour with a hint of the green pastures. They can be smooth and creamy, mousse-like or crumbly like feta. Some are wrapped in chestnut leaves, rolled in ash or covered in herbs
Natural Rind – (wrinkled rind, bluish grey mould)
Nearly always goat, they are chalky and moist when young with a lemony fresh tang. Gradually they develop a delicate bluish grey mould and dry out, producing a wrinkled rind (depending on type of mould used) which becomes more pronounced with age and the flavour is more nutty with a more distinct goaty taste.
Soft White Cheese – (white fuzzy rind)
The curd retains much of the whey, ensuring the cheese becomes wonderfully soft, almost runny and grows a fuzzy white rind of Penicillin candidum. The flavour can be best described as mushroomy and sometimes with a hint of sherry! Unpasteurised examples develop a reddish-brown ferment on the rind whereas pasteurised versions have a pure white appearance.