Do You Know Your Cheeses?
by Alice Osborne
When it comes to cheese, we're convinced: If a little is good, a lot is so much better! (Now don't spoil this with fretting over fat count.) Here's a brief overview of the 15 most popular cheeses used in the United States:
American: Mild, processed; commonly tops burgers.
Blue: Sharp, with an aromatic and pungent flavor, which increases with age; often used in salad dressings.
Brie: From France; creamy with an edible rind; mildly tangy and often used in cooking and for snacking.
Cheddar: Firm, white to orange with a flavor ranging from mild to sharp. Named after an English village, it's great in and on just about everything!
Colby: This is the Wisconsin-made version of Cheddar. Lighter, softer, more open-textured than Cheddar and like Cheddar, great in and on just about everything!
Cream: A smooth, spreadable, unripened fresh cheese; Neufchatel is the low-fat version. Excellent for baked cheesecakes, in dips, for spreading.
Feta: Tangy, sharp, salty; made from goat's milk. Often tops salads.
Goat: Also made from goat's milk. Chevre is the French name. Tart, tangy flavor; age makes flavor stronger and texture drier. Also tops salads.
Monterey Jack: Name comes from Monterey, CA. Made from cow's milk; flavor is mild, buttery; texture is semisoft. Our favorite!
Mozzarella: Mild, stringy; made from cow's milk. Factory product is semisoft and chewy with mild flavor; fresh variety has soft texture and sweet, mild flavor. Found on pizza and in lasagna.
Muenster: Pale yellow with very small holes and an orange rind. American is mild; European is pungent.
Parmesan: Italian hard, aged to a dry, crumbly texture. Pleasantly sharp, salty flavor.
Provolone: Firm Italian with mild, smoky taste. Another favorite!
Ricotta: Soft, fresh, white Italian with sweet, mellow taste. Often used in cheesecakes, lasagna, and manicotti. Good low-fat substitute for cottage cheese.
Swiss: A generic name used for a group of pale yellow cheeses with large holes with mild, nutty flavors. Texture is firm and dry and often used in cooking and in sandwiches.
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