Cheese Types

Science Byte

How would a cheesemaker think about the different types of cheese?

Check out the interactive cheese classification chart!

A usual cheese classification scheme is based on firmness or presence of blue/white molds. Think of the classic “firm”, “semi-firm”, “semi-soft”, “soft” classification system. It also includes categories like “blue” and “bloomy-rind”. I call this the “firmness” classification system. While this may be intuitive for someone eating cheese, it doesn’t really make much sense if you understand how cheese is made. The classic “firmness” system places mascarpone, fresh mozzarella, many Latin American cheeses, and cream cheese all into the “fresh” category. While I agree all of those can be considered un-ripened fresh cheeses, they are all made in different ways. For a cheese maker, each of those would have their own category.

A better option would be to separate cheeses by how they are made. Separate categories for un-ripened and ripened cheeses. Un-ripened cheeses can be coagulated by using rennet, acid, heat, or combinations thereof. Ripened cheeses are getting their characteristic flavor from the presence of internal/external bacteria or mold.


This chart isn't perfect. There will always be certain cheeses that don't fit neatly in any classification system.

Cheese Science

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Cheese Types Chart

Interactive chart!