A guide to cheese

Versatile, portable and nutritious, cheese is produced in hundreds of different varieties across the world. Typically made using the milk of cows, goats or sheep, the flavour and appearance of cheeses depend exactly on the conditions in which it is made; the origin of milk, the presence of bacteria, the ageing process and any additives, such as colourings and herbs.

  • Fresh cheese

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    Fresh cheese

    Fresh cheese hasn’t been aged, and doesn’t have a rind. It should have a light, delicate, floral, milky perfume and a light, moist texture. Sometimes called fresh curd cheese, it can be made from any milk. Examples include Tesco Halloumi, Finest Barrel Aged Feta, (both firmer cheese) Finest Mozzarella di Bufala Campana (looser and more moist), Tesco Mascarpone and Tesco Ricotta (both creamy and spreadable).

  • Semi-soft cheese

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    Semi-soft cheese

    Semi-soft cheeses have pliable textures and fresh milk flavours. Some may also have a bit of pungency or sharpness. They contain a relatively high amount of moisture, but typically have longer shelf-lives than softer types. Semi-soft cheeses are not aged extensively. They’re great for snacking or desserts, and a few are heat-tolerant enough to be good cooking cheeses. Finest Taleggio is a delicious example of a semi-soft cheese that’s also good for cooking.

  • Soft-ripened cheese

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    Soft-ripened cheese

    The term “soft-ripened” is used to describe cheeses that are ripened from the outside in, so that they stay very soft or even runny at room temperature. The rind is edible and is produced by spraying the surface of the cheese with a special harmless mould, called penicillium candidum, before the brief aging period. Most soft-ripened cheeses have a creamy texture. Finest Brie de Meaux, Finest Camembert and Finest Kedderton Ash Goats’ Cheese all fall into this category.

  • Surface-ripened cheese

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    Surface-ripened cheese

    Surface-ripened cheeses include those that have a wrinkly rind, or whose rinds are thin and barely contain the runny cheese inside. They tend to fall into two categories: firm, chalky and maybe a little flaky; or runny. The dry ones are most often goats’ cheeses, while the runny ones could use any one of the three milks (cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s), or a combination. Chabichou is a fine example of a surface-ripened cheese made from goat’s milk.

  • Semi-hard cheese

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    Semi-hard cheese

    As the name implies, these cheeses tend to be firmer, sometimes a little crumbly, and are usually good for melting. They’re firm and flavoursome when they’re young, becoming crumblier and more pungent as they age. Each country or area has its own semi-hard cheese – for example Colby, Jarlsberg, Herrgårdsost, Tilsiter, Gouda and Edam. They are all produced in a similar way, but differ in fat content, moisture, texture, ripening and taste. Mature semi-hard cheese with a stronger taste makes a delicious snack. Semi-hard cheeses available at Tesco include Tesco Dutch Edam, Finest Gouda and Finest Cave Aged Swiss Emmental.

  • Hard cheese

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    Hard cheese

    These cheeses have been pressed to remove as much of the whey and moisture from the curds as possible, to ensure a long-lasting product. They may be matured for anything from 12 weeks in the case of mild Cheddar, up to two years or more in the case of vintage Cheddar, Parmesan or Manchego. The aging gives them a dry texture, but also much more pungency and character. They have a long shelf life and will continue to develop their flavour as they age. Examples include Finest Reserve Swiss Gruyere, Finest Wookey Hole Aged Cheddar, Finest Reggiano Parmigiano Parmesan, Finest Spanish Manchego and Finest Grana Padano Riserva.

  • Blue cheese

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    Blue cheese

    There are myriad varieties of blue cheese. Most on the market are made from cow's milk, but there are both sheep's and goat's milk versions as well. The blue mould in these cheeses is most commonly from the bacteria penicilllium roqueforti or penicillium glaucum. It grows during ageing and results in fine blue or blue-green veins running through the cheese. Blue cheese is moist, creamy, and packed with intense flavours. Use it to balance peppery greens by crumbling it into salads or dressings. You can also pair it with bread, crackers or fruit as a starter, or let it melt onto pasta or grilled meats. A little bit of blue cheese goes a long way, but it’s well worth experimenting with. Finest Long Clawson Mature Blue Stilton, Tesco Roquefort and Finest Italian Gorgonzola are all great examples.

  • Washed-rind cheese

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    Washed-rind cheese

    Washed-rind cheeses are typically bathed in salted water, occasionally with the addition of wine, brandy, spirits, or herbs, depending on the traditions of each region. This washing helps break down the curd from the outside, influencing the texture, aroma and flavour of the entire cheese. Washed-rind cheeses have colourful rinds and pungent aromas, contrasting with their even textures and smooth, well-balanced flavours. Examples include Finest Epoisses, Finest Morbier, Finest Langres and Finest Reblochon.

*Products are subject to availability in selected stores


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