FoodFit's Cheese Guide

Everyone loves cheese, but as health-conscious consumers know, certain varieties have a high fat content. When eaten in moderation however, cheese livens up dishes and offers nutritional benefits. One serving of cheese contains 20% of the recommended daily intake of calcium and is equivalent to one serving of protein. Any way you slice or spread it, cheese adds flavor and richness to everything it’s added to. So, take a tour of our cheese course and don’t be afraid to enjoy this wonderful, creamy invention.


Cheeses

American
Asiago
Blue
Boursin
Brie
Brin d'Amour
Camembert
Cheddar
Cheshire
Chèvre (Goat Cheese)
Colby
Cottage Cheese
Cream Cheese
Dry Jack

Edam
Emmental
Feta
Fontina
Gorgonzola
Gouda
Gruyere
Havarti
Jarlsberg
Limburger
Manchego
Mascarpone
Monterey Jack
Mozzarella (Fresh)

Mozzarella (Processed)
Muenster
Munster
Neufchatel
Parmesan
Parrano
Pecorino
Pecorino Romano
Provolone
Ricotta
Romano
Roquefort
Stilton
Swiss

 
Textures:  Soft Cheeses
Semi-Soft to Semi-Hard Cheeses
Hard Cheeses
Hard Grating Cheeses
 
Related Links:  Learn how to pick the perfect wine to go with your favorite cheese.

Soft Cheeses
We perked up our Grilled Portobello Sandwich with a thin layer of low fat cream cheese instead of mayonnaise. Try using herbed cream cheese for an added kick.

Brie

Country of Origin: France

History: nicknamed the "Queen of Cheeses"; Brie dates to the 5th century in the French province of Le Brie outside of Paris; other sources suggest that Charlemagne first tasted Brie in 774 AD; once one of the tributes subjects had to pay to French kings.

Type of Milk: cow

Description: wheel shaped with an edible crust, packaged in a wooden box; should be served at room temperature or warmed

Color: white-cream colored; the surface of non-exported French Brie will turn brown at the peak of flavor and maturity

Taste and Texture: creamy, rich and buttery; spreadable; soft texture

Fat Content: 45%

Recommendations and Pairings: versatile, often served as a dessert, compliments fresh berries, pears, grapes, apples and toasted nuts and crusty breads; melt Brie on top of polenta, pizza and sandwiches

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Boursin

Country of Origin: France

History: founded by Monsieur Boursin in 1957

Type of Milk: cow

Description: has a cylindrical shape without a rind; a triple-cream cheese often flavored with herbs, garlic or cracked pepper

Color: cream colored

Taste and Texture: rich, sweet flavor with a bit of acidity; very buttery, easily spreadable; soft texture

Fat Content: 70%

Recommendations and Pairings: use as a spread for crackers, bruschetta, crusty breads; use as a table cheese and in baking

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Brin d'Amour

Country of Origin: Corsica

Type of Milk: sheep or goat

Description: translates as "morsel of love"; a rustic and delicate cheese rolled in dried rosemary with juniper berries and chili pepper for accent; also known as Fleur du Maquis

Color: cream

Taste and Texture: mild with herbed and pepper flavor; soft texture

Recommendations and Pairings: use just a bit for spreading on crackers, breads; use for special appetizers

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Camembert (Camembert de Normandie)

Country of Origin: France

History: dates back to the 18th century; it's named for the Norman village where its creator resided; a piece was presented to Napoleon in 1855 and from then on, the name Camembert became permanent

Type of Milk: cow

Description: wheel shaped, normally 8-ounces; also packaged in wooden boxes; a soft-ripened cheese with an edible crust

Color: white or creamy yellow

Taste and Texture: delicate, creamy and salty, can range from mild to pungent; soft texture

Fat Content: 45%

Recommendations and Pairings: goes well as a dessert or snack cheese; often paired with apple pie

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Cream Cheese (also see Neufchatel)

Country of Origin: United States

History: developed in 1872

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a fresh, acid curd cheese that requires a starter culture of bacteria; often flavored with herbs, spices or fruit; keep refrigerated and tightly wrapped; whipped cream cheese is soft and fluffy due to the air whipped into it and has fewer calories

Color: pure white

Taste and Texture: mild in taste; velvety, soft texture

Fat Content: must contain 33% milk fat by law although many low fat and non fat versions are available

Recommendations and Pairings: spread on breads, bagels, crackers; use in baking and for cheesecakes

FoodFit Recipes:
Steven Raichlen's Ricotta Cheesecake
Grilled Portabella Sandwich
Steven Raichlen's New York Style Cheesecake

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Gorgonzola

Country of Origin: Italy

History: from the Northern Italian village, Gorgonzola; its bolder, sharper aged version is known as Gorgonzola Piccante while the younger sweet and softer version is known as Gorgonzola Dolce; centuries ago, the cheese went through its aging process in caves

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a traditional, creamy blue cheese; a distinctive table cheese; has small holes and a hard, reddish crust; generally takes three to six months to ripen

Color: white to pale yellow with bluish-green veins of mold

Taste and Texture: ranges from mild to sharp and peppery, increasing with age; has a soft texture

Fat Content: 48%

Recommendations and Pairings: use in salads, dressings, and dips for zestiness; use as a topping for pizza or use in pasta sauce; great companion for fruits like dried figs, apricots and pears; peppery flavor allows it to be paired with fruit juices, cappuccinos and sweet red wines like Sauternes-Bordeaux

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Limburger

Country of Origin: Belgium

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a cheese known for its strong, pungent odor (due to breakdown of proteins on the cheese's surface); soft-ripened with a red-brown thin crust; two month aging process; formed in rectangular blocks

Color: white to pale yellow

Taste and Texture: robust, creamy, spicy and aromatic, rich flavor; soft texture

Fat Content: fluctuates between 20-50%

Recommendations and Pairings: use for desserts and sandwiches; pair with fruit, dark breads and crackers; serve with beer or red wine

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Mascarpone

Country of Origin: the Lombardy region of Italy

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a soft, vegetarian cream-cheese; described as a curd cheese though processed similar to yogurt; natural vegetable acid from the seed of the tamarind tree is used in production

Color: rich blonde/yellow

Taste and Texture: sweet and buttery with a light, whipped-cream taste with a silky, smooth texture; easily spreadable; soft texture

Fat Content: 75%

Recommendations and Pairings: the principal ingredient for Tiramisu, renown dessert of Northern Italy; is also widely used as a frosting/finish for cakes, tortes, etc.; delicious when paired with fresh berries like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries; try a dollop on top of breakfast pastries, fruit salads, hot cocoa or coffee

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Mozzarella (Fresh)

Country of Origin: Italy

Type of Milk: cow or buffalo

Description: a "fresh" cheese packed in water, high in moisture content and low in fat; is sold immersed in whey; Mozzarella di Bufala is the truly authentic variety made in Southern Italy, it bears an oval or spherical shape and is wet and shiny; smoked Mozzarella is known as Mozzarella affumicata; fresh Mozzarella often comes wrapped in leaves or dusted in paprika, charcoal or fresh herbs for serving as table cheese

Color: pure white

Taste and Texture: a slightly acidic, mild taste with a soft texture

Fat Content: low fat as with most "fresh" cheeses

Recommendations and Pairings: excellent alone with a little salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil; pair fresh with tomato and fresh basil; use to top off salads, pastas, bruschetta; melt on pizzas, breads, in casseroles; pair with olives, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, crusty bread

FoodFit Recipes:
Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Bruschetta
Alice Waters' Rainbow Tomato Pizza
Pizza with Red Peppers, Potatoes, Garlic and Mushrooms

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Neufchatel

Country of Origin: France, from the Pays de Bray in Normandy

Type of Milk: cow

Description: very similar to the American "cream cheese"; often used as a lower-fat substitute for cream cheese; comes in a variety of shapes

Color: pure white

Taste and Texture: rich and creamy, moist and slightly sour taste, spreadable; soft texture

Fat Content: 45%

Recommendations and Pairings: spread over toasted breads, bagels; use in deserts, appetizers, fruit salads, cooking; pair with fresh or canned fruit and tomatoes

FoodFit Recipes:
Grilled Portabello Sandwich
Steven Raichlen's New York Style Cheesecake

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Ricotta

Country of Origin: Italy

Type of Milk: cow

Description: made from whey collected from making other cheeses like Romano and Provolone and re-cooked; there are three distinct varieties including: Ricotta Salata Moliterna (made from sheep's milk whey), Ricotta Piemontese (cow's milk whey plus 10% milk) and Ricotta Romana (byproduct of Romano)

Color: pure white

Taste and Texture: light, sweet and moist in taste; has the ability to blend very well with tangy tomato sauces; creamy, soft and delicate, soft texture

Fat Content: 65% or 21% for part-skim; low and non fat versions are available

Recommendations and Pairings: a primary ingredient in Italian pasta dishes like lasagna, manicotti and ravioli; mix with herbs for dipping vegetables and crackers; combine with cream cheese or mascarpone to prepare the sweet filling for cannoli or Italian cheesecake

FoodFit Recipes:
Steven Raichlen's Ricotta Cheesecake
Steven Raichlen's Amazing Low Fat Cannoli
Sunny Cristadoro's Venison Lasagna Rolls

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Semi-Soft to Semi-Hard Cheeses
It doesn't take much cheddar to add some tangy goodness to a hearty soup like our Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Cheese.

American

Country of Origin: United States

History: first introduced in grocery stores in 1915 by J.L. Kraft; this popular cheese boasts the highest volume of profits among cheeses sold in the United States

Type of Milk: cow

Description: American Cheese is processed from 100% barrel cheddar and is often sold in individually packaged slices; smooth, does not separate when melted

Color: light yellow or orange color

Taste and Texture: mild; semi-soft texture

Fat Content: lower fat versions made with 2% milk fat are also available

Recommendations and Pairings: typically used on sandwiches, in omelets, melted over pretzels or English Muffins; pair with apples or grapes

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Blue (Bleu d'Auvergne)

Country of Origin: France

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a traditional artisanal cheese, moist and creamy; Stilton, Gorgonzola, Danish Blue and Roquefort are all types of blue cheese; Danish Blue is known as "basic blue" and is the #1 blue cheese import in the U.S.

Color: cream colored with bluish-green veins

Taste and Texture: tart and earthly with a hint of herbs and butter, becoming more robust and piquant with age; crumbly; semi-soft to hard texture

Fat Content: 50%

Recommendations and Pairings: crumble over salads, pastas or focaccia bread, pair with pears, figs, apples, walnuts and fruit and nut bread

FoodFit Recipes:
Greens and Figs with Blue Cheese
Greens with Apples, Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Cheddar

Country of Origin: England

History: From the small village of Cheddar Gorge; Canada and the U.S. also produce well-known varieties of cheddar.

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a cured, fully matured, hard cheese; varieties range from mild to extra sharp in flavor, increasing with age; the maturing process generally takes between nine and 24 months; often found with a wax rind or in rectangular blocks

Color: ranges from white to pale-yellow to orange-yellow

Taste and Texture: rich and nutty; flavor and texture depend on the age of the cheese—younger cheddars will be more mild and creamy as opposed to aged cheddars which are more crumbly and robust in taste; semi-soft to hard texture

Fat Content: up to 48%; many manufacturers also produce reduced-fat and fat-free versions

Recommendations and Pairings: a versatile cheese for snacking, works well for appetizers, cheese trays, sandwiches, soups, casseroles and salads; pair with wheat or whole-grain crackers, apple or pear slices, grapes, tomatoes, breads and meats

FoodFit Recipes:
Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Cheese

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Chèvre (Goat Cheese)

Country of Origin: France

Type of Milk: goat

Description: comes in various shapes, sizes including log-shapes, pyramids, round loaves, etc.

Taste and Texture: pungent and creamy; semi-soft texture—can be very hard depending on variety

Fat Content: 45%

Recommendations and Pairings: goes well with fruits, crackers, bruschetta, on top of salads; use in appetizers, deserts and sauces

FoodFit Recipes:
Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Torte
Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Grilled Eggplant Roll-Ups Stuffed with Goat Cheese
Roasted Beets, Greens and Goat Cheese with Pine Nut Vinaigrette
Spinach and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese and Wilted Spinach

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Colby

Country of Origin: United States

History: named for the town in Wisconsin where it was first produced; a cousin of Cheddar

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a washed-cure cheese (the curds are thoroughly rinsed in water to remove excess whey and stray lactose—allows cheese to remain soft and sweet) therefore, it may be more easily digested than others; has a higher moisture content than cheddar and feels more springy; is also more sweet and less savory than cheddar

Color: yellow-orange

Taste and Texture: sweet and mild in taste, can become more sharp with age; semi-soft texture

Fat Content: 72%

Recommendations and Pairings: goes well with apples and pears and rye breads; compliments hamburgers, fajitas, chili and more

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Cottage Cheese

Country of Origin: United States, England

Type of Milk: cow; made from whole, part-skimmed or skimmed pasteurized milk

Description: an acid curd cheese; ripens in one to two days; comes in three forms: small-curd, medium-curd, and large-curd; more perishable than most other cheeses; often flavored with chives, pineapple, and other fruits

Color: pure white

Taste and Texture: a mild, sweet taste; very moist; semi-soft texture

Fat Content: whole cottage cheese: 4-8%, light cottage cheese: 1-2%, non fat: 0%

Recommendations and Pairings: great to eat alone or with fruit and tomatoes; use as partial substitute for ricotta in baking

FoodFit Recipes:
Steven Raichlen's New York Style Cheesecake

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Feta

Country of Origin: the Balkan Islands and Greece

Type of Milk: sheep, cow and goat

Description: possibly the most famous cheese in Greece; normally comes in a loaf or block shape; traditionally sold in brine-filled glass jars; often known as the "pickled cheese"; feta made from goat's milk tends to have a strong game flavor, sheep's milk feta is bold, rich and higher in fat, while cow's milk feta has a more mild flavor and is best when used for cooking; sheep's milk is generally preferred because it is extremely white and creamy

Color: pure white

Taste and Texture: quite salty, as packed in brine for preservation, a bit acidic—soak in cold water or milk to remove salt and bring out natural flavor; a crumbly, solid cheese; semi-hard texture

Fat Content: 40-50%; reduced-fat and flavored versions also exist

Recommendations and Pairings: great alone, with bread, olives, salami and salads; in pasta, chicken and seafood entrees; great contrasting flavor for sweet fruit like mango, apricot and watermelon; mix in with fresh vegetables

FoodFit Recipes:
Greek Chicken en Papillote
Greek Frittata with Spinach, Oregano, and Feta Cheese
Basic Bruschetta

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Fontina

Country of Origin: Italy

History: from the village of Fontinaz in the Val d'Aosta region in the Alps near the French and Swiss border; known in some areas as Fontinella

Type of Milk: cow

Description: dense and smooth with a subtle flavor; one of Italy's more un-publicized cheeses, but a great secret; is the primary ingredient in Italian fonduta (fondue)

Color: straw-colored; cream to beige

Taste and Texture: a hint of nuttiness and mild honey, buttery in taste when young, growing more dry, earthy and mellow with age; semi-soft to hard in texture

Fat Content: 74%

Recommendations and Pairings: excellent to use in sandwiches, salads, desserts, appetizers; pair with fresh fruit, mushrooms (to bring out earthy flavor), crackers, bread; other suggestions: use it to top off French onion soup, twice-baked potatoes, pizza

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Gouda

Country of Origin: Holland

History: a long-established, popular Dutch cheese from the town of Gouda outside of Rotterdam

Type of Milk: cow

Description: accounts for more than 60% of the cheese produced in Holland; traditionally creamy and hard; cousin of Edam; has a hard, red-wax rind; Smoked Gouda has a black or brown wax-rind; often flavored with herbs, cumin or caraway seeds

Color: creamy yellow to caramel colored

Taste and Texture: a slightly nutty, sweet and fruity flavor yet, with maturation, it becomes more intensely flavorful; mature Gouda takes up to 18 months; with a smooth skin—making slicing and melting easy; semi-soft to hard texture

Fat Content: 40%

Recommendations and Pairings: use as a table or dessert cheese; younger Gouda goes well with cookies, fresh fruit, such as peaches and melons; pair aged Gouda with apples, pears, toasted almonds, dark breads and dark-roast coffees; pair smoked or flavored Gouda with prosciutto and tomato or vegetable juice

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Gruyere

Country of Origin: Switzerland

History: Named after the Swiss village in the Alps, Gruyere; also an ancient Swiss word for forest (Gruyeres) during the Dark and Middle Ages; cheese makers who lived in the forests originally created the cheese curd we now know as Gruyere in kettles over a fire

Type of Milk: cow

Description: has a natural brown rind; is a pitted cheese withtiny holes; ripening process takes up to two months, curing lasts from three to 10 months; traditionally made in copper vats and preserved on wooden boards

Color: dark yellow

Taste and Texture: complex flavoring—, fruity, buttery in its younger stages and more earthy and nutty as it ages; dense and compact; semi-hard texture

Recommendations and Pairings: pair with red apples, hazelnuts, and hearty breads; goes wonderfully with hearty winter dishes and rich pastas; often used as the base cheese for fondue

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Havarti

Country of Origin: Denmark

History: named after the farm in Denmark where Hanne Nielsen originally made the cheese

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a simple, washed-rind cheese with small holes throughout

Color: cream

Taste and Texture: smooth, mild yet tangy and buttery in taste; often flavored with caraway seeds, dill, jalapenos, garlic and herbs; semi-soft texture

Fat Content: 72%; low fat is 56%

Recommendations and Pairings: great to use as a table or dessert cheese; great on sandwiches, crackers; pair with roasted peppers, olives, read grapes and pears, almonds and breads such as rye bread

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Jarlsberg

Country of Origin: Norway

Type of Milk: cow

Description: similar to Swiss Emmental in consistency but with a more nutty, sweet flavor; has different-sized holes throughout; widely known as "Baby Swiss"

Color: golden yellow

Taste and Texture: nutty and sweet flavor, semi-soft to hard texture

Fat Content: 70%, low fat is 43%

Recommendations and Pairings: can be used as a table or dessert cheese; goes well on sandwiches, in soups, for snacks; pair with fruit and bread; serve with wine or beer

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Monterey Jack

Country of Origin: United States

History: developed by Californian David Jacks from Scotland in 1882

Type of Milk: cow

Description: consistency varies with maturity, as most softer types (those generally found in American supermarkets) are aged only for one month, while aged Monterey Jack is matured up to six months and is commonly used for grating purpose; Pepper Jack is a spicy version with jalapenos; often found in spicy and Mexican dishes

Color: white

Taste and Texture: milky tasting, somewhat bland though slightly zesty with a semi-soft texture

Fat Content: 72%; there are also lower-fat versions

Recommendations and Pairings: grate over your favorite Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes; use in omelets or sandwiches, in sauces; great for a snack with crackers; pair with bread, crackers, plums, peaches and toasted pecans

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Mozzarella (Processed)

Country of Origin: Italy

Type of Milk: cow

Description: unlike fresh Mozzarella, this type is packaged in rectangular hunks or shredded; it's very stringy and elastic

Color: pale yellow

Taste and Texture: mild taste, smooth, elastic; semi-soft texture

Fat Content: whole milk, 68%; part-skim is 56%

Recommendations and Pairings: use over pizza; melt on bruschetta; use in cooking and baking; a great low fat "string" cheese for snacking

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Muenster

Country of Origin: United States

Type of Milk: cow

Description: has an orange skin and is square in shape; has nothing in common with the French Munster

Color: white/cream colored

Taste and Texture: mellow yet slightly piquant flavor; semi-soft texture

Fat Content: 45%

Recommendations and Pairings: goes well on sandwiches and cheese trays; pair with apples, crackers, use to top pizza

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Munster

Country of Origin: France

History: originally developed by monks in medieval French monasteries; the name Muenster is derived from the Latin word Monasterium

Type of Milk: cow

Description: has an orange skin and is square shaped; a creamy, washed-rind cheese with a round shape and orange skin; one of the few cheeses that ripens inside out

Color: dark yellow

Taste and Texture: has a distinctly strong flavor and is much more pungent than American Muenster; has a semi-soft texture

Fat Content: 45%

Recommendations and Pairings: serve with dark breads, use on sandwiches and in appetizers

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Provolone

Country of Origin: Italy

Type of Milk: cow

Description: cousin of mozzarella; used as a table and sandwich cheese; able to be grated when fully aged; aged hanging from rafters

Color: golden-yellow

Taste and Texture: similar to that of mozzarella but with a distinctive mellow-smoky flavoring; slightly tart and salty as well; sweeter when younger; has a smooth, semi-hard texture

Fat Content: 68%; low-fat versions of this cheese are available

Recommendations and Pairings: pair with pears, red grapes, figs, olives and hearty breads; use in sandwiches, soups, salads and on pizzas

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Roquefort

Country of Origin: France

History: only milk from specially bred sheep is used for Roquefort and is ripened in limestone caverns under the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, near the Spanish border of France

Type of Milk: sheep

Description: the most famous blue-mold worldwide, often described as the "King of cheeses"; has a cylindrical shape with a pale ivory rind and burnt-orange skin; "Penicillium roqueforti" is added during processing to give the cheese its blue-green molding

Color: the exterior is white and shiny while the interior is blue-veined

Taste and Texture: sharp, peppery taste, piquant and distinct flavor—combining the sweet burnt-caramel taste of sheep's milk with the sharp tang of blue mold; has a slightly crumbly yet pate like texture

Fat Content: 73%

Recommendations and Pairings: use in dressings, salads and appetizers; goes well with crackers, coffee and fresh fruit; the French eat Roquefort as a dessert cheese

FoodFit Recipes:
Endive and Roquefort Salad

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Stilton

Country of Origin: England

Type of Milk: cow

Description: another historical "King of cheeses"; a blue-mold veined cheese with a wrinkled, inedible rind; two varieties—Blue Stilton and White Stilton

Color: white with blue veins

Taste and Texture: rich and mellow flavor with a piquant aftertaste though milder than Roquefort or Gorgonzola; crumbly, semi-hard texture

Fat Content: 55%

Recommendations and Pairings: crumble over salads or use in dips, as a dessert cheese or on a cheese tray; pair with fruit and crackers

FoodFit Recipes:
Celery Root Bisque with Stilton and Apple

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Hard Cheeses
Enjoy our Potato and Manchego Cheese Tart for brunch or anytime you want a savory dish that's easy to make and can feed a crowd.

Cheshire

Country of Origin: England

History: one of the oldest English cheeses; invented in the 12th century in the county of Cheshire

Type of Milk: cow

Description: comes in three varieties—White (known as Farmhouse Cheshire), Red (colored with annatto) and Blue (punctured during the curing process to produce blue veins); normally a young cheese with an average maturation process of eight weeks to six months, becoming sharper with age

Color: White (pale yellow), Red (apricot-colored) or Blue (cream colored with blue veins)

Taste and Texture: rich and mellow much like Cheddar, a bit salty in taste; has a great aftertaste; more crumbly than Cheddar; hard texture

Fat Content: 48%

Recommendations and Pairings: great as a table cheese or for snacking; pair with crackers, fruit like apple slices and grapes; use for a cheese tray

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Edam

Country of Origin: Holland

Type of Milk: cow

Description: ball-shaped; covered in red wax; commonly eaten in its young stage of maturation; If coating is black wax, Edam has been matured for at least 17 weeks; made from skim or semi-skim milk

Color: light yellow

Taste and Texture: sweet, smooth and nutty flavor; similar in flavor to Gouda; semi-hard to hard texture

Fat Content: 40%

Recommendations and Pairings: goes well on sandwiches and crackers; on cheese trays

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Emmental

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from cow's milk; has a sweet aroma almost like fresh hay; has large holes throughout; difficult to produce because of the holes; the European version of American Swiss cheese

Color: pale yellow

Taste and Texture: fruity taste, a bit acidic; hard texture

Fat Content: 73%

Recommendations and Pairings: great on sandwiches and with crackers

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Manchego

Country of Origin: Spain

History: produced in the La Mancha region, home of Don Quixote

Type of Milk: sheep

Description: has a black/gray rind; has tiny holes throughout; has a slight roasted lamb aroma; "cured" at 13 weeks, "aged" at three months; may be doused in olive oil; similar to Zamorano, Cadiz, Calahora, Castelleno—all Spanish cheeses

Color: pure white to pale yellow, darkening with age

Taste and Texture: slightly briny/salty and nutty flavor with a hard, crumbly texture

Fat Content: 57%

Recommendations and Pairings: perfect paired with a slice of bread; often served with olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a full-bodied red wine or dry sherry; delicious for dessert with fresh or dried fruit or fruit tarts; featured in many Spanish antipastos

FoodFit Recipes:
Potato and Manchego Cheese Tart

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Parrano

Country of Origin: Holland

History: a recently developed cheese from the Netherlands often termed the "Dutch Gouda with an Italian flair"

Type of Milk: cow

Description: aged for five months to give it its nutty taste; easy to cut, grate and melt and is full of flavor

Color: pale yellow/cream

Taste and Texture: has a nutty taste similar to that of Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano; has a firm, smooth texture like Gouda

Recommendations and Pairings: excellent when paired with olives, crackers and white wines; great addition to cheese platters, appetizers

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Swiss

Country of Origin: United States

Type of Milk: cow

Description: the American version of Swiss Emmental; traditionally known for its large holes throughout; generally produced in square/rectangular blocks; has no rind

Color: shiny, pale yellow

Taste and Texture: a sweet aroma with a mild fruity, nutty flavor and a bit of acidity; hard texture

Fat Content: 67%; low fat versions of this cheese are available

Recommendations and Pairings: use as a dessert, in sandwiches and salads, on cheese trays and in cooking; excellent when paired with apples, pears, cherries, green grapes, pumpernickel bread, toasted almonds, prosciutto, ham and salami

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Hard Grating Cheeses
For a zesty, bold flavor with very little fat, shave a bit of Pecorino Romano over a pasta dish or salad. Try this tip with our Grilled Shrimp with White Bean Salad.

Asiago

Country of Origin: Italy, Vicenza and Trento regions

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a traditional, unpasteurized, hard grating cheese; there are two types of Asiago—one made from whole milk and matured for 20-30 days—the second known as Asiago d'Allevo, is matured for over two years and is made from skim milk

Color: light yellow coloring

Taste and Texture: fruity, creamy and mild when young, nutty, hard grating and sharp with age; hard grating texture

Recommendations and Pairings: grate over pastas, use in risotto or pizza; pair with fresh figs, grapes or pears, salami, crusty breads

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Dry Jack

Country of Origin: United States

History: created in 1915 by a San Francisco wholesaler

Type of Milk: cow

Description: a square-shaped, unpasteurized, vegetarian grating cheese with rounded edges; the natural rind is rubbed with oil, cocoa and pepper which looks like chocolate icing

Color: deep yellow

Taste and Texture: sharp, sweet and fruity flavor with a taste of wine, crumbly; hard grating texture

Recommendations and Pairings: pair with fennel, dates, walnuts and salami and red wines; try dipping in balsamic vinegar

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Parmesan

Country of Origin: Italy

History: from the town of Parma

Type of Milk: cow

Description: also known as Parmigiano Reggiano; one of the most popular cheeses worldwide primarily used as a grating cheese when aged, though its younger counterpart is an eating cheese; produced in large 75 pound wheels, saws are used to cut the wheels; maturing process can range from 14 months to four years

Color: light yellow

Taste and Texture: bold, sharp and piquant in flavor, intensifying with age, brittle; hard grating texture

Fat Content: 61%

Recommendations and Pairings: excellent grated over soups, pasta dishes, veal, chicken and salads; used often in tomato sauces and risottos; add to pizza and mashed potatoes; pair with fresh fits, pears, melon, raisins, walnuts and hearty bread; goes well with cappuccino and hearty red wines

FoodFit Recipes:
Lemon Tagliarini with Parmesan
Joyce Goldstein's Eggplant Parmesan Style
Tomato Soup with Basil-Parmesan Cream
Tortellini with Tomato Basil Sauce
Ravioli with Bell Pepper Sauce

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Pecorino

Country of Origin: Italy

Type of Milk: sheep

Description: name given to all Italian cheeses made from sheep's milk; Pecorino Romano is the name given to cheeses from the area around Rome, Pecorino Sardo from Sardinia, Pecorino Siciliano from Sicily; Pecorino Pepato is a variety spiced with peppercorns; a traditional, drum-shaped cheese with a hard rind; generally made in Sardinia, Italy

Color: white to pale yellow with a pale straw to dark brown rind

Taste and Texture: salty yet fruity, becoming more robust with age; hard grating texture

Fat Content: 80%

Recommendations and Pairings: grate over pasta, chicken, veal, casseroles, salads, use in sandwiches; pair with a full-bodied red wine

FoodFit Recipes:


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Pecorino Romano

Country of Origin: Italy

History: said to have been made and eaten by Romulus when he founded Rome around 750 BC; although there's no way of verifying its existence that early, it is recorded as an export of Italy in the first century AD and is undoubtedly one of the oldest Italian cheeses

Type of Milk: sheep

Description: one of Italy's oldest cheeses, name given to cheeses made from sheep's milk in the area around Rome; sharper in flavor than most other Pecorino varieties; often referred to as "Locatelli," a brand name of Pecorino Romano

Color: straw-white with a darker colored rind

Taste and Texture: bears a sharper, more robust taste than standard Pecorino, a hard grating texture

Fat Content: 50%

Recommendations and Pairings: a typical grating cheese; grate over pastas, chicken, veal, casseroles, salads, use in sandwiches; pair with full bodied red wines

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Romano

Country of Origin: Italy, from the region surrounding Rome

Type of Milk: primarily cow, sheep and goat also; known in Europe by its original name Pecorino-Romano when made with sheep's milk; Vecchino-Romano when made with cow's milk and Caprino-Romano with goat's milk

Description: primarily used as a grating and cooking cheese once aged, although eaten plain when young; made by the special process "rummaging curd" or draining the curd quickly after molding

Color: light yellow

Taste and Texture: sharp and bold in taste with a hard, brittle, granular texture; hard grating texture

Fat Content: 53%

Recommendations and Pairings: grate onto Italian soups, pasta sauces and dishes, salads; sprinkle over spaghetti, lasagna and pizza; try over scrambled eggs, quiches and frittatas as well; pair with full-bodied red wines

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