Types of Cheeses

  • Brie & Other Soft Cheeses
    • Brie & Other Soft Cheeses
    • Mozzarella & Other Semi-Soft Cheeses
    • Cheddar & Other Firm Cheeses
    • Parmesan & Other Hard Cheeses
    • Ricotta & Other Fresh Cheeses
Soft brie cheese with basil leaf

Brie & Other Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses generally have either a "washed" or "bloomy rind" and are coveted for their creaminess. Washed rind soft cheeses like Taleggio are washed regularly with a brine or cheesemaker's secret solution and are often referred to as "stinky cheese." Bloomy rind cheese include brie and camembert-style cheeses with edible rinds of white mold.

Fresh mozzarella cheese with olive oil, pepper, tomatoes and basil leaves

Mozzarella & Other Semi-Soft Cheeses

Semi-soft cheeses contain between 62% to 67% moisture, creating a soft and creamy texture. Cheeses such as mozzarella, havarti or fontina, make up this category; they can be aged for a range of months and can be washed in brine.

Block of cheddar cheese

Cheddar & Other Firm Cheeses

Firm cheeses like younger cheddars, goudas and gruyère-style cheeses typically have a smooth, elastic texture with flavours ranging from mild to sharp. Many firm cheeses can be aged, which further enriches their flavour and enhances their texture.

Block of parmesan cheese with basil leaves

Parmesan & Other Hard Cheeses

Hard cheeses, such as parmesan or aged gouda have a dense consistency and deeper flavour due to a longer aging process. The longer the aging process, the more complex and flavourful they become!

Ricotta cheese with mint leaves

Ricotta & Other Fresh Cheeses

Fresh or "young" cheeses are typically made from fresh curds and contain a high percentage of moisture with flavours ranging from mild and milky to salty. These cheeses include ricotta, mascarpone, cream cheese, quark, fresh mozzarella and cheese curds. 

How is cheese made?

Since there are many kinds of delicious cheese, this process might vary, but they usually start with these simple steps.

Common ways cheese is made

Curdling the milk

...In a good way. Milk is poured into vats where “starter culture” bacteria is added to turn lactose into lactic acid. An enzyme called “rennet” is also added to start curdling the milk (turning it from a liquid to a solid).

Common ways cheese is made

Removing whey, adding salt

Once the curds are formed, whey protein is left behind in a liquid form that is removed from the curds. Once the whey is drained and removed a few times, salt is mixed in for flavour.

Common ways cheese is made

Pressed and aged

Then, the curds are pressed into molds (usually blocks) and aged in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment for months at a time.

How to keep cheese fresh

When it comes to storing cheeses, store them in the crisper in your fridge to preserve their freshness.

Fresh or soft cheese

Fresh cheeses are usually stored in water - it’s best to keep them in their original containers and change out the water every couple of days. For soft cheeses, such as brie or camembert, store in a resealable container. 

Semi-soft, firm or hard cheese

For cheeses such as cheddar, for example, after you remove them from their packaging, wrapping them in wax or parchment paper will suffice. For hard cheeses, such as parmesan, wrapping them in wax or parchment paper and then a layer of aluminum foil will ensure it doesn’t dry out.  Also, make sure it still has room to breathe!

Can you freeze cheese?

Thinking about freezing your cheese to make it last longer? It’s possible if done correctly. Unlike storing cheese in the fridge using parchment paper and letting it breathe, you’ll want to use plastic wrap and something that seals when storing in the freezer (you want to prevent any ice crystals forming). Depending on the cheese, it should be good for at least two months in the freezer.

Learn more about freezing dairy

The Art of Pairing Cheese

Charcuterie board with a variety of cheeses, herbs and spreads

Tips for a Charcuterie board

All about variety
On your board, try to include a range of soft to hard cheese, and mild to strong flavoured cheese.

Flavours
Add contrasting flavours like adding a fig jam to pair with brie cheese, or pickles to pair with a sharp cheddar. You can’t go wrong with a board full of yummy cheeses, so have fun with it!

Cheese board with a variety of cheeses, herbs and spreads paired with wine

A quick guide to cheese and wine

Intensity
Usually, intense wines paired with equally intense cheeses work well. Try Pinot Noir with a cheese such as gruyère.

Red or White?
Red wines tend to pair well with aged cheeses, such as parmesan, while white sparkling wines pair well with soft, bloomy rind cheeses like brie.

Keep it simple
A good rule to follow is to simply pair wines and cheeses from the same region!

Blackbird bakery homemade pie

How to cook with different cheeses

The best grilled cheese
If you’re looking for a good cheese-pull, the meltiest ones are semi-soft ones, such as fontina or asiago.

The best cheese for salads
Fresh cheeses are, with no surprise, best for topping salads. Mozzarella or bocconcini is a great addition.

The best cheese for sweets
Lighter, creamier cheeses, such as ricotta, mascarpone or cream cheese can be sweetened to make classic desserts.

Read more on Savour Ontario

Our favourite recipes with cheese

Two white plates, each with a slice of rye bread topped with a layer of ricotta cheese, a layer of prosciutto, a few wedges of fig and a drizzle of honey.

Ricotta Toast with Fig and Prosciutto

See full recipe
A chicken pot pie in a cast iron skillet with a small serving in a side bowl

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

See full recipe

Explore more dairy goodness

Bottle of milk

Milk

This nutritious and delicious grocery list mainstay is more than just a thirst quencher.

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Yogurt with blueberries

Yogurt

Another versatile dairy product that can be enjoyed on its own or used as an ingredient in everyday recipes.

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Container of cream

Cream

A key ingredient in your coffee and your everyday cooking. Explore all cream has to offer.

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A swirl of butter

Butter

A must-have on every shopping list. See all the ways you can use and enjoy Ontario-made butter.

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Chocolate ice cream in a bowl

Ice Cream

Made with real Ontario dairy, ice cream is a dessert enjoyed with friends and family, all year round.

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