There are literally hundreds of different kinds of cheese in the world, all with different characteristics, flavors, and origins. Many different factors determine how a cheese turns out but some of the most influential are what kind of milk is used (cow, sheep, or goat), how it's prepared, and how long the cheese is aged. As a general rule, the longer a cheese is aged the more aromatic and flavor-intense it is. Here's a guide to just a few of the world's most popular cheeses and what makes them unique.Cheddar
One of most widely used cheeses here in the States, cheddar cheese is made from cow's milk and was first 'born' in England in a little village called Cheddar. It comes in mild, medium, and sharp varieties and can be off-white to dark orange in color.
is a white cheese with unique blue/black spots and veins in it that are the result of mold
. Made from a combination of sheep, goat, and cow's milk, blue cheese has a both a strong smell and a very strong flavor -- for many it's an acquired taste.
Originating in Switzerland, Swiss cheese is unique for its 'eyes' which are the holes left by bubbles that form during the aging process. The larger the 'eyes' the more intense the flavor.Feta
originated in Greece and is made with a combination of sheep and goat's milk. It's a white, soft or semi-firm cheese that is aged for several months and has a mild to strong tangy flavor.Asiago
cheese hails from the Asiago High Plateau in Italy (at least originally) and has a full, nutty-flavor. It comes in two main varieties, Fresh Asiago made from whole milk and Asiago d' Allevo made from part-skim milk and aged much longer.Brie
is a soft, light white to yellow cheese with a thick, somewhat tasteless, edible rind. It originated in France and is traditionally made with raw milk
, meaning true Brie is not available in the United States due to pasturization laws. Many pasteurized varieties are available, however, and are usually enjoyed sliced with fruit or bread.Limburger
Perhaps most famous for its "stinkiness," Limburger cheese originated in Belgium (before becoming popular in Germany) and gets its trademark odor from bacteria living in the rind. The cheese itself, made from cow's milk, has a mild tangy flavor and is often enjoyed with beer.
Have another cheese you'd like to know more about? This website
has an easy-to-navigate alphabetical guide.