Celebrate National Cheese Day By Increasing Your Cheese Knowledge!
Did you know that June 4 is National Cheese Day? Now that's a holiday I can get behind! While I love me some cheese, I am definitely not a cheese connoisseur! There are so many different types of cheese out there, and while cheese all around is just delicious, there's definitely an art and science to pairing different types of cheese with the right thing! I decided to do some basic research to up my cheese game- and it's quite overwhelming how many different types of cheese there are! If you're a basic cheese-lover such as myself, here's a great breakdown I found of some very basic information!
When we come right down to it- there are 4 different types of cheese- hard, soft, crumbly, and guilty pleasure- or basically, a cheese that is meant to be enjoyed in and of itself, and not paired with other foods.
Hard cheeses are ones we probably use almost every day (at least with a house of toddlers ;) ). Cheddar, gouda, pepper jack, swiss, parmesan, etc. These firm cheeses have been given at least 2 months to age, and they are ones you might find in recipes that require "grating" of any kind. Hard cheeses have such a unique range of flavor (think of the difference between asiago and cheddar!). While these cheeses are definitely tasty on their own, they're great when you need cheese to melt for nachos, a grilled cheese sandwich, or to stir into your homemade soup. While these cheeses aren't necessarily "stand-alone" cheeses, they are wonderful for enhancing the flavor in many dishes, adding just that dash of delicious tasty goodness that pastas, soups, etc need!
Soft cheeses can also be great meal enhancers, but they're also great by themselves or as the main focus of a meal! Mozzarella, ricotta, muenster, fontina, cream cheese, goat cheese, brie- such a wide variety of flavors! You'll often find these cheeses in appetizers, desserts, or other dishes where cheese is much more of a main focus (think- artichoke dip!) They're also very melty, making them a real indulgence for the right kinds of meals!
Crumbly cheeses are the ultimate salad topper, right? Feta, blue cheese, gorgonzola, cojita- all delicious, and all very strong flavors. These are perfect when you need to add a more interesting flavor angle or when you're trying to mask other flavors (here's looking at you, picky eaters!) They're especially great for enhancing meat dishes by cutting through the fat flavors, making your dish that much more delicious. These cheeses are definitely ones that require some experimentation as their strong flavors leave a whole world of possibilities open!
And finally, we come to the guilty pleasure, stand-alone cheeses. These are the true gourmet cheeses. Vermont white cheddar, Dubliner, port salut- these cheeses are not meant to be meal enhancers, salad toppings, quesadilla fillings- they are truly meant to be eaten and enjoyed as a cheese all on its own. Because who doesn't just want to eat straight-up cheese sometimes?
This only scratches the surface of what there is to know about cheese. You could group cheeses according to country of origin, the amount of time it's given to age, what it pairs well with, or even a more intense breakdown of semi-soft, hard, curdled, etc. Cheese knows no bounds!
How many of you are cheese connoisseurs? What's your favorite cheese, and what do you like to pair it with? Share with us below!
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