Many of the best known cheeses in the world—Cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, “Swiss” (aka Emmentaler) are firm to hard in texture. And yet, using these three as illustrations, they taste radically different. So, how do hard cheeses wind up this way—different from the limpid Bries, also different from one another?‍ Unlike most of the cheeses in the 101 groups discussed thus far, such as bloomy rinded Brie or washed rind Taleggio, the hard cheeses begin their journey as curds from which a far greater amount of moisture is removed. This can be achieved in several ways, including cutting of the curd (reducing a big floating mass into increasingly smaller bits), heating the curd (raising the temperature leads to a contraction of the curd and the accompanying expulsion of liquid whey), pressing the curd (applying pressure during cheesemaking and/or after the wheels are formed to squeeze out residual moisture) and, finally, salt which, in the form of brine or crystals can pull out remaining liquid inside the newly formed cheese.
Hard Cheese 101 aka Gateway Cheese™: Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan
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