Types of Cheese

This Chart shows Types of Cheese groups by their characteristics and production process. The ring color represents the milk source. For more information, hover over the cheese or the process.

Cow Sheep Cow, goat, sheep, buffalo Cow, goat Cow, goat, sheep
Cow, buffalo Cow, goat, sheep, camel Goat, sheep Cow, sheep

Types of Cheese Visualized

This is a radial Dendrogram visualizing the different groups of cheeses originating in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. This graph is based on a graph of cheese varieties found on Fundamentals of Cheese Science by Patrick F. Fox, Timothy P. Guinee, Timothy M. Cogan, Paul L. H. McSweeney. The advantages of this classification is that it includes processes, and types of cheese. As an added bonus this graph includes the animal where the milk comes from. This is achieved by using a colored ring around each cheese variety.

When you hover over each cheese, you will find detailed information about the source, type, rind, aroma, taste, and country of origin. These descriptions should be enough to give you an idea of the result of the process, and decide the cheese you would like to try next time you are in the dairy section.

The blue circles in the middle describe the main process used in making each cheese variety.

There are other ways to classify cheese, for example they can be categorized as natural versus process cheeses, unripened versus ripened and soft, versus hard. Many cheeses are named for their place of origin, such as Cheddar cheese, which originated in Cheddar, England Hilmarcheese.

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These are the Processes and characteristics and examples of different types of cheese.

Acid Coagulated Cheeses

acid coagulated cheese icluding cottage, cream, and queso blanco

Acid Coagulated or Fresh Cheese is produced by acid coagulation at 30 - 32°C with little or no added rennet. The addition of an acid ingredient breaks down the micelle structures and reorganizes the proteins into a firm network.

Examples of Cheese produced from acid coagulation are:

Rennet Coagulated Surface Ripened Cheese

surface ripened cheeses icluding Brick, Havarti , Muenster, and Trappist

Surface-ripened cheeses ripen from their outside surface inward to the interior, via bacteria, yeasts, and/or molds. These organisms are encouraged to grow during the aging process.

A red or orange color develops on the surface of most surface-ripened cheeses during ripening due to the production of carotenoid pigments by bacteria. Via Science Direct.

Internal Mould Ripened Cheese

Internal Mould Ripened Cheese like Roquefort, and Gorgonzola

Also called blue mold Ripened cheeses, have a distinctive blue/green streaks in its interior. The molds used to ripen the cheese are from the genus Penicillium.

Surface Mould Ripened Cheese

surface mould ripened cheeses like Brie and Camemebert

Surface mould–ripened soft cheeses are characterized by the presence of a felt-like coating of white mycelia due to the growth of Penicillium camemberti on the surface. The surface mold plays only a small role in ripening the interior and, to boost the mild and often bland flavor, producers may add extra cream.

Internal Bacterially Ripened Extra Hard Cheese

Internal Bacterially Ripened Extra Hard Cheese like Parmigiano and asiago

These cheeses are hard and brittle. They are hard because they are low in fat and in moisture. In addition to grating well, they are usually aged up to 3 years to develop a sharp flavor.

Hard Cheeses

internal ripened hard cheeses like Cheddar, Cheshire and Romy

Semi Hard Cheeses

Internal ripened semi hard cheeses like Caerphilly, Mahon and Monterey Jack

Swiss Type Cheese

Swiss type cheese like Emmental Maasdam and Gruyere

Swiss Type Cheeses or Alpine cheeses were traditionally made in large rounds or "wheels" with a hard rind. Most varieties have few if any holes, or holes that are much smaller than the large holes found in some Emmental or its imitations. The general eating characteristics of the cheeses are a firm but still elastic texture, flavor that is not sharp, acidic or salty, but rather nutty and buttery. When melted, which they often are in cooking, they are "gooey", and "slick, stretchy and runny.

Dutch Type Cheese

Dutch type cheese like Gouda and Edam and high salt Feta cheese

They belong to the group of semi-hard cheeses and have undergone maturation for at least four weeks when brought to the market. Gouda-type cheeses, typically in the form of 12-15 kg wheels or blocks, are characterized by a limited number of rather small round eyes. Dutch-type cheeses


High Salt Variety Cheeses

The main reason that cheese makers salt brine their cheese is to slow down or completely stop the bacteria process of converting lactose to lactic acid. A lot of lactose is removed during the process. Salting the cheese also pulls moisture from the surface, properly drying it out for rind development. It also inhibits the growth of a variety of molds, that are attracted to cheese.

Pasta Filata Varieties

Pasta Filata Variety Cheeses like Mozzarella and Provolone

also known as "stretched curd" or "spun paste", refers to the process of heating and stretching curd directly before forming a final cheese. Cheese Science Toolkit

Heat Acid Coagulation

Several cheeses are made worldwide by acid-coagulation of highly heated milk. Popular acid/heat coagulated cheeses include Paneer, and Ricotta. These cheeses are typically made from whole milk, skim milk, cream, whey, or combinations. Ricotta is a soft cheese that has a fine, moist, grainy texture. Ricotta often appears in recipes for lasagna and other Italian casseroles. It's also a common stuffing ingredient for ravioli, manicotti, and other types of pasta. In desserts, it can be used similarly to mascarpone in cheesecake or blended with sugar, spices, and flavorings to fill cannoli or as a layer cake filling.

Concentration Christallyzation

Mysostis a Scandinavian cheese in origin and traditionally made from the whey of cow milk. The color of this cheese is usually light to dark brown, depending on the amount of cream that has been added and the sugar caramelization levels.

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Cheese Production

Cheese is the result of coagulating or curdling milk, stirring and heating the curd, draining off the whey (the watery part of milk), collecting, and pressing the curd, and in some cases ripening.

Cheese creation is both a science and an art. Cheesemakers rely as much on measurements of pH levels and inoculations of specific molds as they do their own senses of sight, touch, and smell. There are six important steps in cheesemaking according to the The Spruce Eats:

Resources for Cheese Classification

The code used for this graph was modified from Cluster Dendrogram. The cheeses were drawn using Krita. The information on each individual cheese variety came from Wikipedia and from Cheese.com.

Inspiration for Types of Cheese Visualized

This visualization was created after viewing the graph on Popular Science called "Meet the hard-working microbes that make your favorite cheeses". I was quite intrigued with the different microbes displayed. I have a degree in biology and I found it quite interesting and reminiscent of microbiology classes. So that infographic actually made me think on the science behind the process. I definitely spent some time looking at it. But it was hard to group each variety with a specific organism.

I decided I wanted a more detailed graph. One that gave me more information on each cheese. I found that the source of milk is of major interest, but does not seem to be that important when it comes to classifying cheese. Besides, most of the varieties use just cow milk. The main characteristic used to catalogue cheese, are the physical characteristics. But after looking at a few catalogues, they don't seem to make much sense. Fundamentals of cheese provided the most comprehensive organization. There is a physical component, a microbiological component, and the process to produce the cheese.

I am not a connoisseur of cheese but it was particularly encouraging to find I had tried at least one cheese in most of the groups. It also made a lot of sense to find that cottage and cream cheese had a similar appearance and flavor and went through the same basic process. Also that surface ripened cheeses had a similar look and coloring. Furthermore, it was not surprising that Roquefort was produced from internal mold, or that Brie and Camembert had surface mold that gave it a soft white exterior and light color.

I excuse myself for not including Colombian trademarks such as Queso Campesino and Queso Costeño. I also wanted to include delicacies like Halloumi but the screen has a limited space, and I wanted to focus in the most common cheese varieties.

This was not an easy graph to complete. I had constant cravings of Roquefort, Cheddar, and Camembert. Reminiscences of Emmental and Gruyere. Good thing we make quesadillas at home at least once a week. Is there anything better than CHEESE?

Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.

Types of Cheese Visualized

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