Six Types of Cheese You Need to Get to Know

by Erika Kubick

Picture this: you’re at the cheese counter with a sea of wedges and wheels before you. You know you want one, but you don’t know which one. They’re each so beautiful you could take them all home. Let’s get to know them, shall we?

1. Fresh Cheese

This category includes anything that is unaged with no rind, like cheese curds. These cheeses have the highest-moisture content, which means they have a soft texture that is either spreadable like ricotta or crumbly like feta. It also means they will spoil quickly, so it is best to eat them within a couple days of opening. All fresh cheeses have mild, milky and tangy flavors that taste great crumbled over wintry citrus salads or stirred into garlicky tomato sauces.

2. Pasta Filata

The smallest category of the six, these cheeses are made by hand-stretching the curds before forming into their final shape. This makes for a stringy texture that melts into a perfect Instagram-ready cheese pull. Pasta filata cheeses can either be fresh like mozzarella or aged like provolone. They have a mild, addictive flavor prime for melting on pizza, and are also delicious when marinated in herbed olive oil and paired with salami and olives.

3. Bloomy Rind Cheeses

Any cheese with a white, pillowy outside is in the bloomy rind family. These guys have unctuous, buttery flavors that develop stronger notes of mushrooms and earth as you near their edible rinds. They can either be smooth and oozing like camembert, or dense and cakey like goat’s milk cheeses. Their soft, snowy appearance always makes a statement on a cheese board, and their creamy flavors pair wonderfully with sweet accompaniments like fruit preserves, chutneys and honey.

4. Washed Rind Cheeses

If you see a cheese with a red or orange rind, you can assume that it’s going to bring some stink. These are washed-rind cheeses, and while their funky aroma is intense, they’ve got a much bigger bark than bite. Underneath the boisterous rinds, you will discover a much milder, custard-like interior that melts in the mouth with brothy, savory and beefy notes. These cheeses are fabulous with anything that goes with a burger, like mustards, pickles and fried potatoes. Examples include Widmer’s Brick, Limburger, and Monroe from Roth Cheese.

5. Aged Cheese

The broadest category of cheese, aged cheeses are the most versatile of the bunch. They have the lowest moisture content and are great for any traveling turophiles since they’ll do fine without of refrigeration. They’re firm and sturdy and can even develop crunchy crystals as they age. (Think gouda and parmesan.) These guys can have super complex, concentrated flavors since they have more time to develop. Pair a wedge with some beer and roasted nuts to enhance the nutty notes of the cheese.

6. Blue Cheeses

The most polarizing of all cheeses, you’re either a blue hater or a blue lover. Blue cheeses have a mold called Penicillium roqueforti stirred in, which creates pockets or streaks of blue, gray or even green as the cheese ages and oxygen feeds the molds. They can be firm, like Dunbarton Blue, or more creamy and crumbly like Gorgonzola. They’re the saltiest of the cheeses, which helps the molds grow, so these guys pair well with anything sweet like figs or honey. For an unexpectedly delicious pairing, try spreading blue cheese on a square of dark chocolate. The earthy notes in both bring out the best in the other.