Hard Cheeses

These are cured cheeses with a firm texture and varying degrees of mildness or sharpness, depending on their age.

Cheddar is an English invention, but American versions are so popular in the United States that it is often thought of as a distinctly American cheese. It ranges in flavor from mild to sharp and in color from light yellow to orange. Cheddar is eaten as is and is also widely used in cooking. Colby and Monterey jack are similar to very mild cheddars. Monterey jack is usually sold when quite young. In this case,it is more like American muen-ster and belongs in the semisoft category.

Swiss-type cheeses are also popular. Swiss-type cheeses are produced in many countries, but the original Swiss cheese from Switzerland, Emmenthaler, is perhaps the most flavorful.These are very firm, slightly rubbery cheeses with a nutty taste.Their large holes are caused by gases formed during ripening. Gruyère is another Swiss-type cheese from either Switzerland or France. It has smaller holes and a sharper, earthier flavor. Gruyère is important in cooking and it, plus Emmenthaler, are widely used for sauces, soufflés, fondue, and gratinéed items. Other cheeses related to Swiss are Comté from France, Appenzeller and Raclette from Switzerland,and Jarlsberg from Norway.

Edam and Gouda are the familiar round Dutch cheeses with the yellow and red wax rinds. Hard in texture, with a mellow, nutlike flavor, they are often seen on buffet platters and among dessert cheeses.

Provolone is an Italian cheese that resembles mozzarella when very young, but it becomes sharper as it ages. It is also available smoked.

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