The world of artisanal cheese is complex and varied, and can be difficult to navigate. To help guide you in your quest for cheese knowledge, we have assembled this glossary. Here, you'll find definitions and explanations for many of the technical terms used on this site and in the cheese world at large. To supplement your endeavor, don't forget to explore our
educational classes, and
blog entries. With these tools in hand, you'll soon be the ultimate cheese know-it-all!
A description used for cheese with sour flavors.
The craft of maturing and aging cheeses.
The person behind the maturation and aging of cheeses.
The term usually used for bloomy or washed rind cheeses, giving off a strong smell or taste of ammonia.
A vegetable extract deriving from achiote seeds that is used to color a cheese red, yellow, or orange.
A skilled manual craftsperson.
Cheese that has been hand-crafted in small batches according to time-honored techniques, recipes, and traditions.
Microscopic, single cell organisms found everywhere. Bacteria are integral to the production of every type of cheese. They promote complex flavor development, rind growth, and acidification. The large majority of bacteria in cheese are beneficial and non-pathogenic.
Used to describe the rind of cheeses such as Munster d'Alsace and Epoisses, indicating a heavy growth of bacteria on the surface and unique flavor.
The French word for cheeses that are blue-veined.
Type of cheese the rind of which has be coated with Penicillium candidum, allowing it to ripen from outside in. Camembert and Brie are examples of bloomy rind cheeses.
Blue mold found in blue cheeses.
The general name for the texture of cheese. Cheese body can be further described alternately as firm, weak, pastry, flaky, close, short.
A mixture comprised of water, salt, and often some type of spirit. Brines are used to "wash" cheeses, inhibiting mold growth and promoting flavor development.
Term used to a describe a cheese that is off-color or possesses dents or other abnormalities.
The amount of fat in cheese.
The liquid remaining after cream is curdled and churned to make butter - similar to whey.
A substance derived from rennin, an enzyme found in the fourth stomach of a milk-fed calf. It is used to coagulate (curdle) milk.
The technical name for milk protein. Casein is broken in half by rennet in the production of cheese, forming curds and whey.
Originally a real cave or cellar. Today, a cave can be a specially calibrated refrigerated cooler used to maintain the precise humidity and temperature levels ideal for aging cheese.
Denotes the sprinkling of cheeses with dark vegetable ash commonly seen on young goats' milk cheeses.
A cloth, having either a course or fine texture, used to drain cheese curds or line cheese molds.
A cheese made from goat's milk
Chevre or chèvre (SHEV-reh)
A facet of cheesemaking, when cut curd is heated to expel more whey.
The fatty element of milk.
The solid portion of coagulated or curdled milk.
The stage in cheesemaking when the cheese is left to ripen and lose some of its moisture. Also known as affinage or aging.
When curds and whey are separated, and the whey is allowed to drain off.
The part of cheese consisting of solid (versus liquid) matter.
Enhances the coagulation of milk, along with rennet.
The technical name for holes formed in certain cheeses after fermentation, e.g. in
Describes cheese made solely from milk produced on the same farm.
The amount of fat in dry matter in cheese.
Cheese that has not been ripened or aged.
Cheese that has been aged, salted, pressed for some time causing it to lose moisture.
The terms horizontal tasting and vertical tasting come from the wine world. A horizontal tasting with cheese involves tasting similar cheeses side by side, such as tasting various cheddars, or more specifically, several Loire valley chevres, or several blues, etc. These are some of the particularly exciting and educational ways to compare various cheeses side by side. From time to time Artisanal offers cheese tasting classes that employ one of these formats.
Horizontal tasting (see also vertical tasting)
The acid produced in milk or curd during cheesemaking, often as a result of the addition of a bacterial starter culture.
Natural sugar found in milk.
A physical intolerance and inability to process milk sugars. It should be noted that lactose is consumed by bacteria in the production of cheese and converted to lactic acid. Most cheeses over 60 days old do not contain any lactose, or only contain trace amounts. Milk allergy is often confused with lactose intolerance.
Part of the process of cheesemaking, when the cheese is stored at a certain temperature and humidity for a period of time in order to allow its flavor and texture to develop.
When added artificially to a cheese, mold describes a fungus or fungiform bacteria necessary for the development of the cheese. It manifests either internally or on the surface. Cheese can also develop mold spontaneously or naturally, usually on the rind of a cheese. This mold is usually beneficial or innocuous, but can be harmful as well. Typically, darker-colored molds are beneficial or harmless (blue, gray, brown, dark orange). Avoid consumption of bright yellow, red, or jet black molds.
A step in the cheesemaking process in which curds are poured into wood, metal, cloth, or plastic molds, containing holes to allow for drainage. These molds help determine the final shape of the cheese.
The type of wax used to coat cheeses, providing protection during transport and to discourage surface mold growth.
The interior of a cheese.
The process of heating milk to destroy pathogenic (and beneficial) bacteria, rendering the milk "clean". The typical method employed is HTST or High Temperature, Short Time. Milk is held at a temperature of 161.5 degrees Fahrenheit (or 72 degrees Celsius) for at least 15 seconds.
A mold often added to soft-ripened cheeses that promotes the growth of a white, bloomy rind.
Cheeses that have been pressed to further expel whey. Gouda and
Parmigiano-Reggiano are popular examples of pressed cheeses.
The process of piercing a cheese with long needles in order to introduce the air necessary for certain types of fermentation, usually blue mold growth.
A plant or animal derived substance that contains the enzyme rennin. Rennet is crucial to the coagulation of milk in the cheesemaking process. Traditionally, rennet was derived from the lining of the fourth stomach of an unweaned ruminant animal (e.g. a calf, kid, or lamb). Today, microbial, plant-derived, and GMO varieties represent the majority of the market.
The step in the cheesemaking process in which rennet is added to coagulate (curdle) the milk.
The outside of a cheese. The rind acts as a barrier between the cheese and the outside environment, while also imparting a flavor of its own.
The process of maturing a cheese. Artisanal Premium Cheese specializes in ripening cheeses to their full flavor potential.
When salt is added during the cheesemaking process to draw out liquid, enhance flavors, and stave off pathogenic bacteria growth. Different types of cheese require salting at different stages of the production process.
Milk from which part or all of the fat (cream layer) has been removed.
Unpressed, high moisture cheeses that are aged for relatively short periods.
Brie are popular examples of soft cheese.
The bacteria added to milk at the very beginning of the cheesemaking process. The starter serves to acidify the milk, speeding along coagulation, and also adds to the complexity of flavor.
Often used to describe the flavor of goat's milk cheese. Tangy flavors are often related to cheeses that are higher in acid.
Toma is a soft or semi-hard, Italian cow's milk cheese. It is made primarily in the Aosta Valley and Piedmont regions of Northern Italy.
Toma varies with region and locale of production. The Toma Piemontese variety from Piedmont has Protected Designation of Origin status under
EU legislation while the Toma di Gressoney, produced in a restricted area of the Aosta Valley is officially recognized as a
Prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale.
Toma di Locana, Toma Val di Lanzo, Toma veia, Toma di Gaby, Toma di Battelmatt, Toma del Pesio, Toma del Maccagno to name a few
which are recorder in Pierre Androuet dictionary of cheese of the world.
The word toma does not appear in the Italian dictionary. However, the most complete lexicons do contain the expressions "promettere Roma e Toma"
(to promise heaven and earth) and "capire Roma per Toma" (to take Rome for Toma). In either case, the word was coined solely because it rhymed
with Roma. The name may have developed from the old French term tumer, which means to fall. In the case of the cheese, it may refer to the dropping
of the rennet into the milk to make it curdle. Whatever the origin of the name, the cheese itself is ancient. Pantaleone da Confidenza discussed
it in his Summa Lacticinorum, which was published in 1477 in Turin.
Tomme is a type of cheese, and is a generic name given to a class of cheese produced mainly in the French alps.
Tommes are normally produced from the skim milk left over after the cream has been removed to produce butter and richer cheeses,
or when there is too little milk to produce a full cheese. As a result, they are generally low in fat.
Tomme / Tome (French) (TOME)
There are many varieties of Tommes, which are usually identified by their place of origin. The most famous of these is Tomme de Savoie. Other
Tommes include Tomme Boudane, Tomme au Fenouil, Tomme de Crayeuse, Tomme d'Aydius and Tomme du Revard. Tomme de Montagne is a collective
term for the upland varieties, e.g. Tomme de Savoie but not Tomme de Beaujolais.
Tomme is traditionally used to make aligot, an Auvergnat dish combining the melted cheese and mashed potatoes.
The Tome des Bauges AOC are made in both, farm or dairy. When they are made in farm they are named Tome fermiere des Bauges,
instead of just Tome des Bauges.
Tomme Vaudoise is a melting soft cheese speciality from the Vaud canton and the Geneva region.
Cheese connoisseurs appreciate the round, mild taste of the young cheese and the distinctive, rustic
taste of mature Tomme. It has a rather thin rind covered with white or red mould, and is creamy in consistency.
Tomme Vaudoise is a splendid addition to any cheeseboard and can also be eaten as a dessert or as part of a meal,
for instance with vegetables or a salad. Molded as a small disk of 75g to 125 g (4 oz) according to the Swiss Cheese Marketing Board.
Cheese that contains more than 75% fat in dry matter (e.g.
Pierre Robert and
Triple crème (CREHM)
Cheese produced where the milk is only heated to 36 degrees Celsius and coagulated at a slightly lower temperature. Milk used to produce 'cooked cheeses' is heated to a much higher temperature. Examples of uncooked cheeses are
Tomme de Savoie.
Cheese made from milk that has not been pasteurized. Often called raw milk, cheese made from milk that has not been pasteurized must be aged at least 60 days before it can be sold.
Rennet derived completely from fungal, bacterial, or floral sources rather than from livestock. The cardoon thistle, for example, is often used as a source of vegetarian rennet.
The terms vertical tasting and horizontal tasting come from the wine world. A vertical tasting with cheese involves tasting the same cheese at various ages, from as young as possible (just barely cheese) also described in
The Cheese Plate as stage 1, to well-aged, if not overripe. This is one of many fun ways to compare various cheeses side by side.
From time to time Artisanal offers cheese tasting classes in one of these particularly exciting formats.
Vertical tasting (see also horizontal tasting)
Used to describe a type of cheese that is washed periodically in a brine solution in order to promote rind growth and develop flavor. The rind may be washed in water, brine, cider, beer, spirits, wine, etc. Each type of wash imparts its own unique flavor. Examples of washed-rind cheeses are Epoisses.
The liquid portion of the milk left when milk is curdled. High in protein and carbohydrates, it is often fed to hogs, or reheated to produce ricotta cheese.