Cheese Glossary

» Aligot
(Tomme Fraîche) A rindless fresh cheese with a white, spongy, elastic, non-salted pâte. It is often used in cooking.
» Alpkäse
The ‘Alp’ refers to the German/Austrian Alps where this cheese originated. It’s a kind of Emmenthal, and when it matures it develops tiny holes called ‘teardrops’. As with most hard or semi-hard cheeses, the older it gets, the more flavoursome it becomes.
(See PDO) Appellation d’Origine Controlee (France). AOC has recently been replaced by AOP.
(See PDO) Appellation d’Origine Protégé (France) – replaces the former system of AOC.
» Appenzell
A Swiss cheese with a golden-brown rind made from unpasteurised cow’s milk (45% fat content). This compressed cooked cheese has holes and is very firm without being hard or brittle. It must be full-flavoured and tangy, but never pungent. It can replace Gruyère in cooking.
» Asiago
Made in the Italian province of Vicenza, it is a DOP cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk (although ewe’s milk was originally used). There are 3 types of Asiago: Asiago d’Allevo, which is matured for 2-6 months and is hard, sharp and primarily used for grating; Asiago Grasso Monte, a medium, tangy cheese; and Asiago Pressato which is a more common and commercial type of Asiago made from pasteurised cow’s milk and only ripened for 20-40 days. The texture is rather rubbery and the flavour is very mild. Asiago loaves are often mistaken for American Cheddar in appearance.
» Bagnes
A Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk (45% fat content); it is a cooked, pressed cheese with a slightly rough brushed crust. Firm but springy to the touch, it has a fruity flavour and is a flat, round cheese. It is usually matured for 3 months but can be matured for 6 months which makes it quite a strong cheese.
» Banon
A French cheese made from cow’s, goat’s or ewe’s milk (45% fat content), it has a soft texture a natural crust and is a squat round shape. It is presented wrapped in chestnut leaves steeped in brandy and tied up with raffia.
» Beaufort
A French AOP cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk (at least 48% fat content) in the province of Savoie in the French Alps. It is cooked and then pressed until it is firm and ivory-coloured with a natural brushed crust. It is a round cheese without holes and has a concave base and a fine fruity flavour. The best cheeses are labeled Beaufort d’Alpage.
» Bel Paese
This unpressed, cooked and ripened cheese in Melzo, Lombardy. It is creamy white or pale yellow and is soft, buttery and elastic. It has no holes and has a pleasant, tangy flavour. The name means ‘beautiful country’. Bel Paese is matured for about 50 days and contains 48%-50% fat.
» Blue Cheese
(Legally referred to as ‘Blue Vein’ in South Africa) A good blue cheese is ivory or cream coloured, firm and springy and rather fatty, with evenly distributed light or dark green-blue veins. The naturally formed crust may be rough or smooth. Most distinguished are the French ewe’s-milk Roquefort, English Blue Stilton and Italian Gorgonzola.
» Bocconcini
‘little balls’ of mozzarella.
» Bougon
A goat’s milk cheese (46% fat content), soft with a red-tinged crust. Made exclusively by the cooperative of La Mothe-Bougon in Poitou, Bourgon is a boxed round cheese.
» Boulette d’Asvesnes
A French cow’s milk cheese (50% fat content) made by mixing Maroilles (see below) cheese with parsley, tarragon and spices. Its reddish crust is washed in beer and the cheese is shaped into a cone. It has a very strong piquant flavour.
» Boulette de Cambrai
A French cow’s milk cheese with a soft smooth pâte (45% fat content) shaped into a small ball. It is not matured and has a milder flavour than Boulette d’Avesnes.
» Boursin
Boursin is a double crème cheese due to its fat content of at least 70%. It originates from Normandie and is a fresh, soft, creamy cheese with no rind. Garlic, herbs or black pepper are often added, and they are sold in small boxes.
» Bouton-de-Culotte
A French goat’s milk cheese that is classified as a soft pâte cheese (40-45% fat content), but is eaten when it is very dry and brittle. Shaped like a truncated cone, with a greyish-brown crust, it has a strong piquant flavour.
» Brebiou
Brebiou is a soft cheese with mixed rind, made from sheep’s milk. It has a characteristic half-round form with an irregular surface that is the result of traditional production utilising large linen cloths.
» Brick
A cow’s milk cheese (45% fat content) which originated in Wisconsin in the United States. It is made by pressing the cheese between 2 bricks to give it a firmer texture. It has a natural reddish rind (hopefully not from the bricks!) and a firm but supple texture with numerous small holes. The flavour is fairly pungent.
» Bricquebec
A French cow’s milk cheese (45% fat content), moulded uncooked and with a washed crust. It is a flat disc and has a sweetish taste.
» Brie
A cow’s milk cheese (45% fat content) originating in the Île-de-France, which has a soft texture and a crust that is springy to the touch, covered in white down and tinted with red. It is made in the shape of a disc – the thinnest part of which is the most matured. The body of the cheese is light yellow or golden with a delicate flavour. The cheese ripens quickly, and must be eaten before the flavour and aroma become offensive.
» Brillat-Savarin
A cow’s milk cheese from Normandy named after the French author who said that ‘a meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.’ It has a soft triple crème pâte due to a minimum of 75% fat content (great for the hips!), a white downy crust and a mild flavour. It is a disc-shaped cheese.
» Broccio
(Brocciu/Brucciu) A Corsican cheese made from ewe’s milk or goat’s milk, with an oily texture (45% fat content). It is generally eaten fresh, but can be matured (demi-sec).
» Brousse
A French curd cheese (45% fat content) made in Provence from either goat’s or ewe’s milk. It is white, mild and creamy, unmatured and has no crust.
» Burrini
A specialty from the very south of Italy – the regions of Puglia and Calabria in particular. Small, pear shaped cheeses of mild and distinctive flavour are carefully molded around a pat of sweet butter, which later will be spread on bread and eaten with the cheese. These cheeses are ripened for just a few weeks and for export are usually dipped in wax or specially packaged. This cheese is also sometimes called Butirri, Burielli or Provole.
» Cabécou
A small soft French cheese (45% fat content) from Quercy and Rouergue, made from a mixture of ewe’s milk and cow’s milk. It is a fairly firm ivory-white cheese with a fine bluish crust and a nutty flavour.
» Cabrales
This DOP handmade blue cheese (45-48% fat content) from northern Spain is made from a mixture of unpastuerised goat’s, ewe’s or cow’s milk. It is produced in wheels and wrapped in green foil. The pâte has intense purple veining with a robust flavour and salty tang.
» Cacetti
These small cheeses are very similar to Burrini but without the heart of butter. They are spun curd cheeses, dipped in wax and hung by raffia strands to ripen for about ten days.
» Caciocavallo
From southern Italy, today’s caciocavallo comes from cow’s milk (as opposed to the original mare’s milk!) and has a mild, slightly salty flavour and firm, smooth texture when young (about 2 months). As it ages, the flavour becomes more pungent and the texture more granular, making it ideal for grating. It may be purchased plain or smoked and comes in string-tied gourd or spindle shapes.
» Caciotta
In Italy there are dozens of cheeses with this name and they can be made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk. They are similar to the stracchino cheeses: soft, white, mild and usually eaten when very young.
» Caerphilly
A semi-hard pressed cow’s milk cheese traditionally made in Wales. The best cheeses are farm-made (fermier) from unpasteurised milk. The flavour is delicate but subtle, with a lightly salty quality.
» Caillebotte
A cream cheese made from cow’s milk (in Aunis and Saintonge) or goat’s milk (in Saintonge and Poitou).
» Camembert
A very famous French cheese dating back to the 18th century. Camembert is a soft cheese (45-50% fat content) made from cow’s milk, pale yellow in colour with a white furry skin speckled with brown flecks. At the beginning of its ripening Camembert is crumbly but it gets softer and creamier over time (usually 2-3 weeks). Mass-produced Camembert is made from pasteurised skimmed milk to which pasteurised cream is added.
» Canestrato
Traditionally made in central and southern Italy from ewe’s milk or a mixture of cow’s and ewe’s milk. It is a semi-hard cheese and may be known as Pecorino Canestrato or Pecorino Siciliana (see ‘Pecorino’).
» Cantal
(See Salers) A high-fat (45% fat content) cow’s milk cheese from the Auvergne region of France. It is ivory in colour with a naturally darker crust, a flexible finely granulated texture and a sweet nutty flavour. Riper cheeses are a little firmer and more highly flavoured.
» Carré de l’est
This cheese, which originates from Champagne and Lorraine has a moist, sticky rind and an uncooked, unpressed, soft and salty pâte. It is sold in square boxes and is a mild cheese with a white downy crust.
» Cendré
A cow’s milk cheese produced in various French regions. They are soft-centred and yellow in colour, disk shaped and fairly firm to the touch. They are matured in wooden boxes or pots lined with ash and have a fairly strong flavour.
» Chabichou (du Poitou)
An AOP goat’s milk cheese from Poitou – the most important goat-breeding region in France. It has a thin rind of white, yellow or blue mould and a soft, even-textured pâte which becomes hard and brittle when mature. They are usually in the shape of a truncated cone but can be cylindrical. Chabichou may be eaten fresh (delicate and slightly sweet flavour) or mature (fairly pronounced flavour and strong smell).
» Chambarand
An unpasteurised soft cow’s milk cheese (45% fat) from Dauphiné, lightly pressed and with a natural washed crust. It is a small round cheese with a light ochre colour and a mild, creamy flavour.
» Chaource
A French cheese with 50% fat content made in the Champagne and Burgundy regions from cow’s milk. It is an uncooked, unpressed cheese with a soft, white, creamy pâte and a whitened crust. It is cylindrical in shape.
» Charolais
A soft goat’s milk cheese (45% fat content) from Burgundy with a bluish natural crust. It is cylindrical in shape and has a nutty flavour more or less pronounced according to its maturity.
» Cheddar
The most widely purchased and eaten cheese in the world, Cheddar is an English cow’s milk cheese (45% butterfat) that originates from Cheddar in Somerset. It has a compressed pâte and a natural oily rind, wrapped in cloth. It is firm to the touch and varies in colour from white-yellow to orange-yellow. Young cheddar is mild but it strengthens in flavour as it matures.
» Chèvre
This is the French term for goat’s milk cheeses. The Loire Valley is the starting point in the history of goat’s milk cheeses in France, and remains the most important area of production. Within the Loire, Poitou is the most important goat-breeding region and produces many different goats milk cheeses. In France cheeses prepared exclusively from goat’s milk contain at least 45% butterfat. Mi-chèvre cheeses are made from a mixture of cow’s milk and goat’s milk.
» Chevrotin
Meaning “little goat” it is related to Reblochon. Chevrotin is produced in Savoy from raw goat’s milk and has a unique herbal flavour, which is distinguishes it from goat cheeses of the Loire. The cheese is produced by hand and ripened for at least 3 weeks. It has recently been accepted as an AOP cheese.
» Coeur de Neufchâtel
A soft cow’s milk cheese (45% fat) from Normandy with a red-tinged crust, white and downy. It is a smooth, heart-shaped cheese with an astringent, fruity flavour.
» Colby
An American hard pressed cow’s milk cheese (45% fat content) that is dyed a deep orange-yellow as for American Cheddar, but is softer and more open, with a mild flavour. Colby must be consumed shortly after purchase or it will dry out and lose its flavour.
» Comté
A cheese made from cow’s milk (min 45% fat), which is cooked and pressed. It is ivory-coloured or pale yellow and has a natural brushed rind, varying from golden yellow to brown. It is matured for 3-6 months. Traditionally it should have small ‘eyes’ or holes, a fruity flavour and a strong bouquet.
» Cottage Cheese
A fresh cow’s milk cheese with a soft, granular consistency and an acid taste. It has a fat content of between 4 and 8% and is therefore synonymous with diets, celery sticks and general deprivation.
» Coulommiers
A French cow’s milk cheese (40-50% fat content) with a soft pâte and a whitish rind.
» Cremoulin
A creamy soft cheese with a mixed rind. In both taste and consistency, this cheese from the Périgord is similar to Vacherin – but differs from its relative from the Franche Comté as it is available year-round.
» Crescenza
A rich, creamy, fresh cheese – also known as Crescenza Stracchino – that is widely made in Italy’s regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. Its texture and flavour are similar to that of a mild cream cheese, and it becomes very soft and spreadable at room temperature. Crescenza is made from uncooked cow’s milk and is sometimes blended with herbs. It doesn’t age well and, although not widely imported, can be found in some specialty cheese shops.
» Crottin de Chavignol
(Chavignol) An AOP goat’s milk cheese from the Loire region. It is ready to eat after 2 weeks of maturation, when the rind has a blueish hue and the pâte becomes glossy. After 5 weeks the cheese is dry and has shrunk, the smell is strong and the pâte has a meaty texture with a robust flavour. This is a ripe Crottin.
» Curd
When it coagulates, milk separates into a semi-solid portion (curd) and a watery liquid (whey – see below). Cheese is made from the curd.