Discover the 10 Hard Cheeses Everyone Should Know
Hard cheeses hold a special place here at Love Cheese, they offer a diverse array of flavours and textures that have won over the taste buds across the globe for centuries. From a nutty Comté from France to the sharp Keens Extra Mature Cheddar from Somerset, hard cheeses also play a significant role in many classic dishes. In this blog post, we delve into the world of hard cheeses, exploring the cheese-making process and introducing 10 must-know varieties that have become staples in global gastronomy.
What Defines a Hard Cheese? And how is it made?
To truly appreciate hard cheeses, it’s essential to understand the cheese-making process that results in their distinctive textures. Hard cheeses are typically crafted through a meticulous ageing process, during which the moisture content decreases, and the flavours intensify. The curds are pressed and compacted, leading to a firm and often crumbly texture. Then the Affinage is the process of maturing or refining cheese to develop its flavours, textures, and characteristics. Cheese affineurs, or cheese maturation experts, play a crucial role in overseeing this process.
“Give me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese and I’m a happy man“
10 different types of hard cheese:
- Parmigiano-Reggiano: Known as the king of Italian cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano boasts a granular texture and a rich, nutty flavour. This iconic cheese is a versatile addition to various dishes.
- Pecorino Romano: Hailing from Italy and made from sheep’s milk, Pecorino Romano is celebrated for its salty kick. A true classic in Italian cuisine, it adds depth to pasta dishes and salads.
- Cheddar: England’s proud export and best selling cheese, Cheddar is renowned for its sharp taste and smooth texture. Whether enjoyed on its own or melted in dishes, Cheddar remains a beloved cheese worldwide.
- Gruyère: Originating from Switzerland, Gruyère offers a delightful combination of sweetness and slight saltiness. It is a key ingredient in the famous Swiss dish, fondue.
- Manchego: Spain’s star cheese, Manchego, is made from sheep’s milk and features a distinctive flavor profile. Its rich and nutty taste makes it a standout choice for tapas and cheese platters.
- Emmental: This Swiss cheese is easily recognizable by its characteristic holes. Emmental boasts a mild, nutty flavor and is commonly used in sandwiches and fondues.
- Ribblesdale Mature: Yorkshires own Goat Gouda, aged in the Netherlands to get an authentic gouda taste. A great alternative to hard cows milk cheeses. Nutty with undertones of fruit
- Comté: A beloved French hard cheese, Comté is known for its complex profile. With a delicate sweetness and nuttiness, it is a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
- Gouda: Originating from the Netherlands, aged Gouda develops a hard and crumbly texture over time. Its robust flavour pairs well with fruits, nuts, and dark bread.
- Mimolette: A French cheese with a distinctive bright orange color and brittle texture, Mimolette adds a unique visual and flavour element to cheese boards. We love it with a Rum and Coke!
Pairing Hard Cheeses with Beverages:
To fully appreciate the nuances of hard cheeses, consider pairing them with complementary beverages. Wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Port, along with beers like IPA and stout, enhance the flavours of these cheeses. Additionally, cider, whiskey, and even coffee can be excellent choices for pairing.
Using Hard Cheeses in Cooking:
Incorporating hard cheeses into your cooking adds depth and richness to dishes. Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta, melt Gruyère in gratins, or add aged Cheddar to savoury pies or mash. The possibilities are endless, and experimenting with these cheeses can elevate your cooking to new heights. Don’t forget to keep the rinds for cheese sauces, soups or stocks – theres no need for waste!
Hard cheeses stand as the pillars of the cheese world, offering a wide range of robust flavours, textures, and possibilities. From the iconic Pecorino Romano to the vibrant Mimolette, each cheese has its own story and place in global cuisine. The versatility of hard cheeses makes them a must-know for any food enthusiast, providing endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. So, next time you’re at the cheese counter, don’t hesitate to embrace the world of hard cheeses and savour the richness they bring to your palate. Like the sound of the cheeses in this blog. You can find them by clicking the link below…