A recent explosion of artisanal and farmstead cheeses in the United States has broadened the palate for this age-old food. Use this guide to learn how to identify the different styles of cheese and serve cheese with confidence. Find out where to buy cheese, how to select cheese and how to store cheese to maximize its flavor. You’ll even learn how to make your own cheese, and be exposed to a lively community of cheese lovers online.
Did you know that the earliest form of cheese was created by accident? Look to this section for a history of the humble cheese and learn how it’s made. Find an introduction to the different types of cheese and learn how to identify them. You’ll be speaking the language of cheese in no time.
- As you begin your research on cheese, you’ll encounter some terms that may be unfamiliar. Look to Murray’s Cheese for a complete glossary of cheese terms.
- The very best way to learn about cheese is by being adventurous and sampling new cheeses. Use these sites to get an introduction to the wide variety of cheese that’s available, or check out “Cheese: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best” by Max McCalman and David Gibbons. Then head to the store—a multitude of cheese awaits you!
For a history of cheese ...
offers a brief history of cheese, relating that most consider the first cheese to have been made in the Middle East. Read about the evolution of cheese and don’t miss the glossary of cheese terms following the article.
, a site primarily featuring science and technology news, uses the story of Gruyere to illustrate “The Strange History of Cheese.” Learn how cheese initially came to be created and why, what exactly it is, and get a slightly technical account of how it’s made.
Artisanal Premium Cheese
gets down to basics in “What is Cheese Anyway?” Learn what constitutes a true cheese and read a simple overview of the cheesemaking process.
hosts a webcast called “Moldy Science: Cheese” that originally aired in March 2003. Take a tour of Cowgirl Creamery, an artisanal cheesemaker in northern California, and watch as Cowgirl’s founder and cheesemaker make a batch of cheese and explain the process.
For the types of cheese …
The Cheese Web
gets the ball rolling with an introduction to “The 7 Types of Cheese,” explaining the importance of the rind. Though this U.K. site uses a tiny font and some unfortunate text colors, the information is succinct and reliable. Don’t miss the “Facts & Fallacies
” page to learn about rennet, vegetarian cheeses and more.
Accent on cheese
, an online magazine devoted to cheese, provides extensive coverage of the cheese families or types. Choose a family to get a profile of the cheese including a brief description of how it’s made and it’s flavor. Use the dropdown menu near the bottom of the page to get acquainted with specific examples of that type of cheese.
For artisan and farmstead cheeses …
, an artisanal cheesemaker in northern California, hosts a “Library of Cheese” that takes you on a virtual tour of cheeses from around the globe. Browse the alphabetized list or search by farm/cheesemaker, milk type, country of origin or milk treatment. Each entry has a description of the cheese and the dairy or cheesemaker, and in most cases, is accompanied by a photo of the cheese.
Cooking Up a Story
hosts short videos with a focus on the food and people who exemplify sustainable living. “Artisan Cheese on the Farm” goes inside The Little Goat Dairy by the River, an artisanal farmstead cheesemaker in Oregon. Find out what makes artisan and farmstead cheeses so distinctive.
For a sample of cheeses from around the world …
, though littered with ads, hosts a database of more than 650 cheeses from around the world. Browse the cheeses by country or search using the links on the left. Each cheese is listed with a brief profile and details such as milk type, texture and in some cases, fat content.
Chemical and Engineering News
attempts to separate the curds from the whey (so to speak) in “What’s That Stuff?” an article that seeks to answer the age-old question, “What exactly is Cheez Whiz?”
Like other gourmet food obsessions, cheese has its own “best practices” for storing and serving it in a way that maintains its quality and integrity. Use this section to learn how to properly handle cheese, and get some great ideas on how to create a dazzling cheese plate. And if you’re just looking for a good mac and cheese recipe, you’ll find that (and lots of other recipes) here, too.
- Maybe you’d rather bypass the cooking and just kick back with a nice assortment of cheese and some wine. You’ll find some suggestions on pairing wine and cheese here, but don’t miss findingDulcinea’s Wine Web Guide for a little wine education—and even more ideas on how to complement cheese with wine.
For tips on selecting, storing and cutting cheese ...
or Our Cheeses, a Web site of the Quebec Federation of Milk Producers, offers advice on how to choose the best quality cheese and store it to preserve its flavor. Scroll down to the “How long?” section to learn how well the different types of cheeses will hold up in your refrigerator.
, an online cheesemonger based in France, elevates cutting cheese to an art form. Learn why the site emphasizes that every slice of cheese should have some of the rind. Look for simple line drawings of representative cheeses that show the angle from which to cut and the resulting shape of the slices. And don’t miss the quick introduction to cutting “instruments,” found at the bottom of the page.
“Kitchen Window” features Clotilde Dusoulier of “Chocolate & Zucchini” blog fame. Here she educates on how to present a cheese course, drawing on the classic French cheese platter as a model. Look for suggestions on cheese selection and accompaniments.
I Love Cheese
, the American Dairy Association official Web site, has a handy “Food & Wine Pairings” guide. Just roll your mouse over the list of cheeses on the left to get a quick description of the cheese’s taste and texture, along with recommendations on wines and foods that would complement it.
For recipes featuring cheese …
presents 13 cheeses with photos and brief profiles. If you have a particular cheese in mind that you’d like to cook with, this is a great resource: each cheese links to several “Recipes to try.” Learn how to make an “Herb and Brie Omelet” or try your hand at a “Rib Eye Steak with Stilton Sauce.”
Redwood Hill Farm
, an award-winning goat diary in Sonoma County, California, has recipes using goat cheese and goat milk yogurt. Scroll through the list of linked recipes to browse categories such as “Appetizers and Salads,” “Main Dishes,” and “Desserts and Drinks.”
Grocery stores, specialty cheese shops and farmer’s markets generally offer a bounty of specialty cheeses. But if your taste for cheese still hasn’t been satiated, turn to the Internet. This section recommends some excellent online retailers, and can even help you locate the cheesemakers themselves.
- Why not support your local cheese shop and avoid shipping costs at the same time? Online Yellow Pages and map sites like Google Maps or MapQuest can help you find a cheese shop or farmer’s market in your area.
- Alternatively, the retail sites listed in this section identify the name of the dairy or creamery that crafted the cheese and in some cases, even link to the cheesemakers’ Web sites. Purchasing directly from the cheesemaker can often save you money—and help you support small local businesses.
boasts more than 800 cheeses from 35 countries around the globe and even includes organic and kosher cheeses. Take a look at the “Staff Picks” for some recommendations, or join the “Cheese of the Month
” club (prices start at three months for $89.95) to receive three different cheeses each month.
, though very well organized and a breeze to navigate, can be a bit overwhelming: with so many cheeses (more than 300) and so many interesting features, where do you begin? Use the “Find Your Cheese
” tool on the left to search for cheeses by type, country, milk type or rennet type. Go “into the caves” to find out what cheeses are aged to perfection and therefore most recommended for purchase. And if you’re in New York City, stop by one of their shops
; they’ll be happy to give you a taste.
Artisanal Premium Cheese
sells more than 300 handcrafted artisanal cheeses from 11 different countries. Purchase cheese from this site, or browse around to learn about the company’s artisanal cheese suppliers. The Cheese Resources
page links to the individual creameries so you can buy directly from the cheesemakers.
For buying cheese accessories…
’s “How to Buy Cheese Knife Sets” is a great first stop for an introduction to cheese utensils. Get tips on how to choose the appropriate tools for the job and suggestions on places to buy them. And don’t forget the cutting board!
sells just about everything cheese related: knives and slicers, cutting boards, fondue pots, cheesemaking supplies—even cheese itself. Browse the well-organized “Accessories
” category to find what you need, or scroll down the right side of the page to the “Bestsellers” area and discover a new item you can’t live without.
Ready to jump on the artisanal, handcrafted cheese bandwagon and try making cheese at home? Use this section to find cheesemaking instructions, recipes, ingredients and equipment. You’ll also find resources for accredited classes and weekend workshops in cheesemaking.
- New to cheesemaking? Try “Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses” (now updated to include 85 recipes) by Ricki Carroll. Carroll is the mastermind behind the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, one of our picks below, and has been making cheese for more than 25 years.
- Although there are lots of sites that only sell cheesemaking ingredients and tools, eBay is also a great resource for cheesemaking essentials.
For cheesemaking instructions and recipes ...
Fankhauser’s Cheese Page
is a Web site of David Fankhauser, Professor of Biology and Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati Clermont College. If you’re new to cheesemaking, start with the Beginning Cheese Making
tutorial for an overview of ingredients and equipment, and a list of seven recipes.
For cheesemaking supplies and equipment ...
New England Cheesemaking Supply Company
has a whimsical site that is neatly organized, making it a breeze to navigate. Get started with one of the many cheesemaking Kits
or pick and choose the ingredients and equipment you need. Visit the Education
section to find cheesemaking advice and tips.
For cheesemaking classes ...
has links to cheesemaking courses offered by universities and dairies around the United States. Classes and workshops are a bit scattered throughout the site, so be sure to visit the “Consumer Education
” page and the “Events
” page for more listings.
Reading about cheese is almost as fun as eating it, and the Web provides ample opportunities to do just that. The Internet is packed with resources on the cheese industry, the latest happenings in the cheese world, and cheese reviews—all sources that aim to keep you up-to-date on everything cheesy. Read on for a few of our favorites.
- Blogs are an excellent source for reviews of cheese, written mostly by cheese lovers like you. Before you take a chance on that new stinky cheese you heard about, take a look at these blogs to see if you can find some unbiased descriptions.
- Try searching on a news aggregator site like Topix to find cheese news headlines from around the Web.
Farmstead Cheese News
is a monthly newsletter presented in blog format. Written by Karen Bolla, a chef and cookbook author, the newsletter focuses on the cheeses, events and people who are active in the farmstead and artisanal cheese community. View the archives to read past issues, or subscribe
to receive the newsletter via e-mail.
is a lively blog written by a guy who “really, really, REALLY likes cheese.” Find reviews of new cheeses and recent cheese articles, cheese pairing suggestions, event announcements, and more.
Pacific Northwest Cheese Project
is an absolute must for the cheese lover in the northwestern United States, providing intimate knowledge of the cheese scene in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and even British Columbia. Regardless of where you live, though, the author’s writing style and informative posts are sure to please.
For a cheese vlog (video blog) ...
Web site hosts “The cheese diaries,” a video blog that chronicles the journey of Alex James, former bassist for the band Blur, from rock star to cheesemaker. Juliet Harbutt, a cheese expert, comes along for the ride.
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