There’s no denying that cheese is a delicious food that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with almost any other meal.
In fact, there are more than a thousand types of cheese available, each with their own unique taste and texture.
Some are mild while others are sharp, creamy, or even tangy.
But if you love cheese as much as we do, there’s one particular type of cheese that’s worth your attention: hard cheese.
What is hard cheese?
Hard cheese is considered to be any kind of cheese that has been aged for a longer period of time than other cheeses.
The most common example of this is cheddar.
In general, cheddar has been aged anywhere from two weeks up to six months, but it can also take up to three years before becoming hard.
While many types of cheese have been aged for a short amount of time, hard cheese tends to be aged for a longer period of time.
It’s not uncommon for these cheeses to be at least a year old when they become hard.
Not only do they age for a long period of time, but they also tend to contain higher levels of fat and calories than other kinds of cheeses, so it’s important to limit your intake of them.
What are the different types of hard cheese?
With all of the different types of cheese available today, it can definitely be difficult to choose which ones to eat.
Fortunately, hard cheese isn’t very difficult to categorize.
Below, we will discuss several of the most popular varieties of hard cheese and what makes them different from one another.
American hard cheese
The term American hard cheese refers to a wide variety of cheeses that are all similar in texture and flavor.
These cheeses include cheddar, gouda, and mozzarella.
Cheddar is by far the most popular hard cheese that Americans consume.
Cheddar cheese is often used in a lot of recipes and foods, and it comes in various shapes and sizes.
Mild cheddar is actually the most basic type of cheddar cheese.
It contains less salt than other kinds of cheddar and doesn’t have a strong flavor.
Mild cheddar tastes good on its own, but is best served alongside other dishes such as soup, pasta, or pizza.
Sharp cheddar is slightly more complex than mild cheddar.
It’s still fairly mild in comparison to other types of cheddar, but it contains more salt than mild cheddar.
Sharp cheddar is commonly found in shredded form due to its tendency to melt during cooking.
Blue cheese is made using blue mold.
Blue cheese is typically drier than other kinds of cheese because it’s formed into small blocks rather than slices.
As a result, it melts easily and can be eaten with bread or crackers.
Gorgonzola is a strong-tasting blue cheese made primarily from cow’s milk.
Since it’s made from cow’s milk, it has a stronger flavor than other types of cheeses made from goat’s milk.
Parmesan is a hard cheese made primarily from cow’s milk.
It has a nutty flavor thanks to its high moisture content.
Parmesan cheese is extremely versatile and can be added to all sorts of foods, including salads, soups, sauces, and dips.
Asiago is an Italian hard cheese that’s made with sheep’s milk.
It has a pungent aroma that gives it a distinct flavor.
Asiago is considered to be the most bitter of all cheeses.
Brie is a French hard cheese made from raw cow’s milk.
Brie has a smooth texture and a sweet, buttery flavor that makes it ideal for sandwiches.
Roquefort is a French blue cheese made with both cow’s and sheep’s milk.
Roquefort’s main characteristic is the presence of penicillium roqueforti, a fungus that gives the cheese its distinctive flavor.
Feta is a salty Greek hard cheese that’s made from sheep’s milk.
Feta gets its name from the region where it’s produced—the area around the city of Fetahia (which is now known as Heraklion).
Provolone is an Italian hard cheese that’s made from cow’s milk.
Provolone has a mild flavor and is usually sold in wedge form.
What is the difference between hard and soft cheese?
Before we get into the differences between hard and soft cheese, let’s talk about how hard cheese is made.
With softer cheeses like cream cheese and cottage cheese, the curds and whey are removed after the cheese is processed.
However, with hard cheese, the curds remain intact until the process of aging happens.
How is hard cheese made?
When making hard cheese, you must start with pasteurized milk.
After it’s been pasteurized, the milk undergoes several steps to remove the moisture.
Then, the milk is mixed with rennet and left to set for several hours.
Finally, the mixture is cut into pieces and pressed into molds to create hardened wheels of cheese.
What are the benefits of hard cheese?
Since hard cheese takes a significantly longer amount of time to produce, it’s generally better for the environment than other cheeses.
Producing hard cheese requires fewer resources and uses less energy than producing soft cheese.
This is why it’s important to buy organic hard cheese whenever possible.
What are the drawbacks of hard cheese?
Although hard cheese is better for the environment than other kinds of cheese, it does come with some downsides.
For starters, hard cheese is pricier than other types of cheese.
If you don’t want to pay extra for hard cheese, it’s probably best to stick with soft cheese.
How long does hard cheese last?
Depending on the brand of hard cheese, the shelf life can range anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
However, there are certain kinds of hard cheese that may last much longer than others.
For instance, hard cheese that’s aged for longer periods of time is likely to taste better and have a stronger smell.
How should hard cheese be stored?
If you live somewhere with extreme temperatures, like Alaska, Hawaii, or Florida, it might be smart to store hard cheese in the freezer instead of refrigerating it.
This way, you can keep it fresh without worrying about spoiling it.
What are some popular hard cheeses?
You could say that hard cheese is one of America’s favorite cheeses.
From cheddar cheese to brie, there are hundreds of different types of hard cheese out there.
Here are just a few examples of popular hard cheeses:
Cheddar cheese (both regular and sharp)