Cheese Characteristics and Uses, page 3


Farmhouse Cheese - These are terms you will hear and see quite often when dealing with limited-production, artisan crafted cheeses. "Farmhouse Cheese" is not a specific type of cheese, but a term used to denote a cheese made by a farm using exclusively the milk from its own herd.

Additionally, Farmhouse cheesemakers usually use raw (unpasteurized) milk in their cheeses because they feel the pasteurization process removes some of the "character" of their milk. During the cheese's aging process, the cheese builds up certain acids which cause it to "self-pasteurize," making it perfectly safe to eat. Because Farmhouse cheeses are usually made in small batches by hand, the cheesemaker's individual style becomes very evident in the flavor, texture and even the color of the finished product.

Feta - Of Greek origin, this pale white cheese was originally made from the milk of sheep. Today, in the United States, it is often made from cow's milk. Feta's curd is only lightly pressed and then ripened in brine, giving the cheese a crumbly texture and salty taste. Soft, flaky, crumbly and white, feta melts well over heat. Salty, pickled flavor.

Use on a Mediterranean-inspired appetizer tray or crumbled over salads. Olives, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetables, fruit, seafood and chicken; serve with Greek wines like retsina, tomato juice and citrus sparkling water.

Fondu au Raisin - French, dessert cheese. Semi-soft, mild and creamy. Coated with black grape seeds.

Serve with nice red wine, French bread, fruit.

Fontina - Semi-soft from Italy. Mild. nutty flavor, light brown rind.

Good in fondue, with bread, fruit, for dessert. Serve with dry red wine.

Fromage Blanc - A very soft, spreadable unripened cheese made from skim milk. Literally translated from the French, Fromage Blanc simply means "white cheese."

Gorgonzola (gohr-guhn-ZOH-lah) - Semi-soft with a light ivory surface and interior marbled with blue-green veins. Piquant, spicy flavor similar to blue cheese. It becomes crumbly with age and melts quickly when crumbled over heat. Named for the Italian city where it is made, this cow's milk cheese is rich and creamy with a slightly pungent flavor. When aged over 6 months, both the flavor and the aroma become stronger....much stronger. Some people think its stinky, but if you like strong cheese, you will love gorgonzola.

Pears, raisins, fruit breads, sweet crackers and walnuts. Serve with full-bodied red wines, sweet red wine, cappuccino, fruit juice and champagne.

Gouda - Originating in the Netherlands, Gouda is easily recognized by its distinctive red waxed exterior, enrobing a three to fifteen-inch wheel. The cheese itself is straw-colored, with a firm yet creamy texture scattered with small holes. Typically aged for only a few months before it reaches maturity, its mild and buttery flavor develops a richer tang as the cheese ages. Gouda can range from semisoft to firm, has a smooth texture and is often found in a wax coating. Gouda melts quickly when it is shredded and heated. Baby Gouda is usually coated in red wax; a more mature Gouda has a yellow wax coating and black wax or brown rind suggests it has been smoked and aged for over a year. Mild and nutty, it is often available smoked or with caraway seeds.

Mild Gouda - Peaches, melons, apricots and cherries. Serve with fruity red or white wine, lager beer, orange juice, apple juice, flavored tea and citrus sparkling water.

Aged Gouda - Apples and pears. Serve with hearty red wine, beer, coffee, cider and sparkling red grape juice.

Smoked or flavored Gouda: Apples, pears, thinly sliced prosciutto. Serve with red wine, beer, sparkling cider, tomato or vegetable juice and cran-grape juice.

Gruyere - It is a shiny yellow, hard, smooth small-eyed cheese that melts well without separating and is often used for sauces, with grilled meats, poultry and fish. Mild and slightly sharp.

Prosciutto or thinly-sliced ham or salami, apples, figs, melon, dates, walnut halves. Serve with full-bodied red wine, beer or ale, tomato juice, cranberry juice and cider.

Havarti - Semi-soft light to pale yellow with tiny eyes in its smooth body, it melts well when it is shredded. Mild to mellow.

Roasted red peppers, olives, bread, and bread sticks. Serve with fruity white wine, sparkling water, light red wine and sparkling water.

Kasseri - A firm Greek cheese, lends a pungent, nutty taste; if it is unavailable, Parmesan can fill the role.

Use in Pastitsio.

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