Reading Guide

Before You Read

Two-Column Notes Two-column notes are a useful way to study and organize what you have read. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In the left column, write down main ideas. In the right column, list supporting details.

Content Vocabulary

• cheddaring

• processed

• whey


• ripening

• emulsifier

• veined cheese

• cold-pack

• rind


• fresh cheese

Key Concepts

• Explain how to identify and store cheeses.

Main Idea

There are many kinds of cheeses that each have their own unique flavor and texture. Cheese can be eaten as part of a main dish or on its own as part of a cheese plate.

Graphic Organizer

Before you read, use a KWL chart like this one to write down five things that you already know about cheese, and what you would like to learn about cheese. Use the last column to take notes about new information as you read.


Academic Vocabulary

Graphic Organizer Go to this book's Online Learning Center at for a printable graphic organizer.

How many different ways can you use cheese?

English Language Arts

NCTE 4 Use written language to communicate effectively.


What I Know

What I Would Like to Know

What I Have Learned

NCTE 4 Use written language to communicate effectively.

k Mathematics

NCTM Problem Solving

Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems.


NSESA Develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry.

Social Studies

NCSSI B Culture Predict how data and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.

NCSS I E Culture

Demonstrate the value of cultural diversity, as well as cohesion, within and across groups

NCTE National Council of Teachers of English

NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics NSES National Science Education Standards

NCSS National Council for the Social Studies

Cheese is one of the most varied, or available in different kinds, of foods available today. There are hard cheeses, such as Cheddar and Colby ('kol-be) Jack, that can be sliced for sandwiches or grated and baked in hot dishes. There are soft cheeses that can be spread on bread and crackers. Crumbly cheeses taste great in salads. Cheese is also a popular addition to a cold platter tray or buffet platter.

Each type of cheese has its own distinct color, flavor and texture. Cheeses may be made from many different types of milk, such as cow's milk, goat's milk, and sheep's milk. Cheese is also nutritious, with plenty of protein and calcium.

Because there are so many different types of cheese, you can always find one that will go well with other foods that you serve. To select cheeses that will go well with the menu, it helps to be able to identify the different types of cheese.

Hard Cheeses

The hard cheeses include Cheddar and Colby. Some of these cheeses are made by a process called cheddaring. During cheddaring, slabs of cheese are stacked and turned. This process squeezes out the whey and gives the hard cheeses their special texture. Whey is the liquid portion of coagulated milk. Whey is also pressed out of the cheese during cheddaring.

Cheeses that have holes in them, including Gruyère (gru-'yer), Jarlsberg ('yarlz-bsrg), and Swiss, are also hard cheeses. The holes in these cheeses come from healthful bacteria that grow inside the cheese. These bacteria release gases during the ripening process. Hard cheeses are excellent for cheese trays, fancy open-face sandwiches, or with fruits or desserts.

Ripening Cheese

The texture and flavor of most cheeses are affected by a process called ripening. During ripening, healthful bacteria and mold are at work in the cheese, changing its texture and flavor. As cheeses are ripened, they are stored in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Ripening can occur from the surface of the cheese to the inside. Or, it can occur from the inside of the cheese outward.

Hard cheeses have been carefully ripened for a long time. The extra aging enhances their flavor and makes them dry and hard. Parmesan and Romano (rs-'ma-Qno) are two other popular hard cheeses. Each has its own special flavor and is available in many market forms.

Hard Cheeses White Cheddar, Romano, and Swiss cheeses are hard cheeses. How is Cheddar cheese made?

Try adding Parmesan, with its deep, spicy flavor, to pasta salads for a buffet luncheon. Romano and Asiago (1a-zhe-'a-(1)go) cheeses have a sharp flavor that goes well with many salads. Include small chunks in main-course salads to add flavor and to make them more filling. You can also sprinkle finely grated hard cheeses on one of the tossed green salads in a buffet line.

buttery cheeses that slice well. The other type includes softer, pungent cheeses. This type of semisoft cheese is often called a veined cheese because it has veins of mold running through it. The mold in these cheeses is put into the cheese during ripening. It is beneficial, or helpful, not harmful for people to eat. In fact, it is this mold that gives the cheese its unique flavor.

Firm Cheeses

Firm cheeses are not brittle, hard, or soft. Some are flaky and others are dense. Provolone ('pro-vs-'lo-ne) is a firm cheese with a smooth texture and light ivory color. Provolone can have a very mild flavor, but aged versions can be quite sharp. Provolone is good on cold sandwiches as well as in cooked dishes, such as pizza and pasta.

When ripened for several months, Gouda ('gu-ds), a Dutch cheese made from cow's milk, has a firm texture. It has a mild, nutty flavor that is popular for snacks and for dipping. Gouda is often sold in wheels of varying sizes that are covered with yellow or red wax. The wax is peeled off before the cheese is eaten.

Edam ('e-dsm) is another Dutch cheese made from cow's milk that is firm when aged. It is light yellow and has a slightly salty taste.

Semisoft Cheeses

Semisoft cheeses are smooth and easy to slice. They come in two types. One type is

Buttery Semisoft Cheeses

The texture of the buttery semisoft cheeses comes from the way the rind is made. The rind is the outer surface of the cheese. These rinds vary in texture, color, and thickness. Cheeses such as Port du Salut ('pór-ds-ss-'lü) and havarti (hs-'var-te) are sealed in wax before they are ripened. Other semisoft cheeses, including Bel Paese (,bel-pa-'a-ze), form their own rind as they ripen. All these cheeses are excellent for making canapés and serving on cheese trays. The king of pizza toppings, mozzarella cheese, is also a semisoft cheese.

Veined Semisoft Cheeses

The semisoft cheeses that have blue veins running through them have strong, distinctive flavors and aromas. Their intense flavor comes from the type of beneficial mold allowed to grow in each one. The aging process also affects the flavor. All of the veined semisoft cheeses are ripened in caves or in rooms that have the same moisture and temperature as caves.

^ J Firm Cheeses Provolone, Edam, and Gouda cheeses are examples of firm cheeses. What are the differences between hard cheeses and firm cheeses?

Semisoft Cheeses Havarti, mozzarella, and Roquefort cheeses are semisoft cheeses. Is mold in cheese harmful?

Gorgonzola (,g6r-gsn-'zo-ls), Roquefort ('rok-fsrt), and Stilton ('stil-tsn) are some of the most popular veined cheeses. They are named after the places where they are made. They are excellent cheeses to spread on crackers for appetizers. They can also be crumbled and added to tossed salads and salad dressings.

Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses have a thin skin and a creamy center. This category includes many different kinds of cheeses. Fresh, creamy ricotta (ri-'ka-ts) is a soft cheese. Runny, pungent Camembert (=ka-msm-,bsr) is also a soft cheese. Farmer's cheese is made from whole or partly skimmed cow's milk. It has a slightly tangy flavor and is milky white. Another soft cheese similar to cottage cheese is baker's cheese. It is used to make baked goods, such as pastries and cheesecakes.

The difference between these soft cheeses is that some have been ripened while others have not. During the ripening process, the bacteria and mold in an unripened cheese alter its flavor and texture. This gives ripened soft cheeses a distinctive flavor.

Fresh Soft Cheeses

Another word used to describe unripened soft cheese is fresh. A fresh cheese is not ripened, or aged, after it is formed into a final shape. Cream cheese, cottage cheese, and mascarpone (,mas-kar-'po-(,)na) are popular unripened soft cheeses. Ricotta and mascar-pone both have a sweet flavor and are often used in baking desserts. Cream cheese is also used in baking desserts, such as cheesecake.

Feta ('fe-ts) is another popular unripened soft cheese. It is a sharp-flavored cheese made from sheep's or cow's milk. Feta can be crumbled and added to tossed salads and breads.

Ripened Soft Cheeses

Ripened soft cheeses have very different flavors and textures from unripened cheeses. High in butterfat, they have richer flavors and are runny and creamy when completely ripe. They are surrounded by a rind that bulges out when the cheese is ripe and ready to be cut. If a ripened cheese is cut before it is ripe, it will have very little flavor and a dry texture. This type of cheese will not continue to ripen once it has been cut.

To test ripened soft cheeses for ripeness, press firmly and gently in the cheese's middle before you cut it. If it is ripe, you will feel some softness in the middle. If it is overripe, you will smell an ammonia odor. Overripe cheese should be discarded.

Soft Cheeses Ricotta, brie, and cream cheeses are examples of soft cheeses. Are there differences between soft cheeses?

Camembert and brie (bre) are the most well-known ripened soft cheeses. Served ripe and at room temperature, they make excellent appetizers or dessert cheeses. They go well with fruit.

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