Domain Four: Cheese Categories and Types

As with all complex subjects, the way in which you categorize cheese into “styles” or “types” is dependent on various factors – including, but not limited to:

  • Who is categorizing it (i.e. a cheesemonger, an affineur, a distributor, and author, etc.)
  • To whom they are communicating (i.e. an enthusiast/customer, a professional client, a scientist, a cheesemaker, etc.)
  • Why they are communicating the information (i.e. for pairing purposes, for getting variation into a cheese case, for making a new cheese, for marketing to customers, etc.),
  • Under what circumstances they are communication the information (i.e. verbally with plenty of time, verbally when there is a long line of people/a rush, visually (as in setting a cheese case), in writing for an enthusiasts guide, in writing for a professional training tool, etc.)

We often choose to categorize cheese to more effectively communicate, since having a frame of reference for a few styles is far easier than memorizing thousands of ever evolving individual cheeses.

So we ask each fromager to understand that no style, category, or type is definitive.  Rather it is a spectrum of overlapping characteristics and qualities that help us better describe different kinds of individual cheese.

It is expected, above all, that a cheesemonger and cheesemaker is aware of the various ways that cheese can be classified and described, and that their ultimate skill lies in knowing how to extract the appropriate information in order to effectively communicate it to the target for each unique settings that arises.

This Body of Knowledge will act to outline the various kinds of classification that exist.  Please note that these are not mutually exclusive: there is a fair amount of overlap with different methods, and many different methods can be – and often are – combined.

 

I. Methods of classification

A. Based on Variables

  1. Texture
    1. Soft
    2. Semi-soft
    3. Semi-firm
    4. Firm
    5. Hard
  2. Milk Type
    1. Animal
      1. Cow
      2. Sheep
      3. Goat
      4. Other
        1. Water Buffalo
        2. Yak
        3. Camel
        4. Human
        5. Mixed Milk
    2. Breed
      1. Cow
        1. Jersey
        2. Holstein
        3. Brown Swiss
        4. Ayreshire
        5. Milking Shorthorn
        6. Dutch Belt
        7. Other
      2. Sheep
        1. East Friesian
        2. Manchega
        3. British Milksheep
        4. Lacuane
        5. Saanen
        6. Churra
        7. Latxa
        8. La Mancha
        9. Other
      3. Goat
        1. Saanen
        2. Alpine
        3. Nubian
        4. Togenberg
        5. La Mancha
    3. Feed
      1. Pastured raised
      2. Grass fed
      3. Grain based
      4. Silage Free
    4. Seasonality
    5. State of the milk (Please cross reference Domain One,Raw Materials for Cheese Making)
      1. Raw
      2. Pasteurized
      3. Thermalized
    6. Nutritional Factors
      1. Fat Content
        1. Partially Skimmed
        2. Skim Milk
        3. Whole/Full Fat
      2. Salt Content
    7. Flavoring agents
    8. Visual agents
      1. Annato
  3. Production Methods
    1. Acidified
      1. Lactic
      2. Enzymatic
        1. Animal Rennet
        2. Microbial Rennet
        3. Thistle Rennet
    2. Brined
    3. Whey-based
    4. Pasta Filata/Pulled Curd
    5. Surface Ripened
      1. Bloomy Rind
        1. Mold Type
          1. P. Candidum
          2. Geotrichum
        2. Fat Content
          1. Double Crème
          2. Triple Crème
      2. Washed Rind
    6. Washed Curd
    7. Pressed
      1. Uncooked, Pressed
      2. Cooked Pressed
    8. Cheddar
      1. Cryovac’ed
      2. Clothbound
    9. Blue
      1. Mold Strain
        1. P. Roquefortii
        2. P. Glaucum
      2. Rind
        1. Foil wrapped/no rind
        2. Natural Rind
    10. Processed
  4. Shape
    1. Small-format
    2. Tomme/Toma
    3. Block
    4. Wheel
  5. Packaging
    1. Cryovac’ed
    2. Wax covered
    3. Clothbound
    4. Mold-ripened
    5. Foil-wrapped
  6. Flavor (i.e. mild, stinky, sweet, concentrated, strong)
  7. Geography/Origin
    1. Country-based
    2. Region-based
      1. Old World vs New World
      2. Terrain Based
        1. Pyrenees
        2. Alpine
        3. Grana
        4. Pasta Filata
        5. Loire Valley
  8. Pairing potential
    1. Component Parts
      1. Fat
      2. Salt
      3. Acidity
    2. Pairing Partner
      1. Wine
      2. Beer
      3. Spirits
      4. Other beverages
      5. Food
        1. Pickles
        2. Jams/Preserves/Chutneys
        3. In cooking/recipes/food preparation
  9. Common Cheese that have turned into generic styles/cheeses (i.e. “Band Aid” and “Xerox” brand effect)
    1. Mozzarella
    2. Swiss
    3. Gouda
    4. Cheddar
    5. Munster
    6. Feta

II. Examples of classification

A. Government Entities

  1. Europe
    1. Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
    2. EU Ag & Rural Development 
  2. North America
    1. US Dairy Export Council

B. Marketing Boards/Collaborative Entities (Partial listing)

  1. Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
  2. Vermont Cheese Council
  3. German Food Guide
  4. American Cheese Society

C. Cheese-related Businesses (Partial listing)

  1. Retailers
    1. Murray’s Cheese
    2. Formaggio Kitchen
    3. Zingerman’s
    4. Artisanal
    5. Neal’s Yard Dairy
    6. Whole Foods
    7. Fromages.com
    8. Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
    9. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
  2. Restaurants (Partial listing)
    1. Casellula
    2. Tria
  3. Established Authors
    1. Steve Jenkins
    2. Max McCalman
    3. Laura Werlin
    4. Liz Thorpe
    5. Sasha Davies
    6. Rikki Carrol
    7. Ari Weinzweig
    8. Frank V. Kosikowski
    9. Pierre Androuet
    10. Patrick Rance
    11. Juliet Harbutt
    12. Will Studd
    13. Janet Fletcher