More than 20 million tons of cheese are produced per year all over the world. There are so many different varieties and types of cheese, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Each type has its own particular characteristics, giving different touches of smell, taste, and textures that make it one of a kind. In the following article we provide a few tips in order to choose and buy the best cheese for you.
Its aroma, origin, taste, appearance and possible pairing are all characteristics to keep in mind before selecting cheese.
1. Where to Buy Cheese.
There are different places to buy cheese: big supermarkets, cheese factories, gourmet stores, and, steadily growing, specialized online stores.
The key is for the point of sale to provide all the information you need about the cheese and insure that it is well preserved and has a strong turnover of stock.
2. The State of the Cheese.
In order to know if the cheese is in a good state, it is important to look closely at its appearance and, if possible, its smell and taste.
Make sure that it doesn’t have any cracks, which would mean that it is dried-up due to, possibly, a long period of time being exposed on the counter. Additionally, verify that it doesn’t have any dents and that it has an even color in its interior, and doesn’t have fungi or mold (unless it is a moldy cheese, as is blue cheese or Roquefort). Some cheese, on its crust, may not look very appealing, so it’s important to make sure that it has natural rind, reason why it may have a rustic look.
If the cheese has a clearer color on the outer rim in comparison to its interior, it means it has not been properly cured and needs longer maturing.
Should the cheese have a coat of oil on its rind, it may be due to the fact that it has been exposed to several modifications of temperature, which causes the grease to come to the surface, and can make the cheese have a sour taste.
When possible, it is recommended to smell the cheese before buying it and insuring that it doesn’t have an unpleasant smell, smell of sour milk or ammonia, which would mean that the cheese is off.
If given the opportunity to taste it, it is advisable to do so in order to make sure you like it. If, when tasting it, its flavor seems sour or is very spicy, the cheese is off. Another option is to purchase a small amount when tasting it for the first time, and to buy larger amounts if it is of your liking.
3. Ingredients and Cheese Production
It is important to pay attention to the label to know the type of milk applied in its production: goat, cow, or sheep milk, etc. In the case of any dietary restrictions or issues related to milk, make sure that raw or pasteurized milk has been applied. During pregnancies, for example, it is not advised to use cheese produced with raw milk. Check for the use of vegetarian or animal rennet, etc. during its production.
Furthermore, according to the type of milk, the taste may vary: cow’s milk is milder, while goat’s milk is more acid, creamy and of a stronger taste.
If the information is not available on the label, ask any staff member. Our online gourmet store offers a thorough description of the origin, ingredients and production of our cheese and, should you require it, we will be happy to solve any queries by phone (+34 926 200 168) or by e-mail.
4. Expiry Date of the Cheese
Before selecting a cheese, make sure to check the expiry date, particularly if you are purchasing a fresh or soft cheese, and that it does not expire soon.
5. The Quantity of Cheese to Buy
The best thing to do is to buy only the amount you foresee you will use over a short period of time. If you are buying a whole piece and you are only going to use a small portion, it is advisable to vacuum pack the rest for proper maintenance.
If it is wrapped in plastic when you purchase it, remove the packaging and change it for wax paper or, in the least, leave the rind exposed for it to breathe and be well preserved.
6. Food that Can Accompany Cheese
You should also keep in mind the different foods you wish to accompany the cheese with. For example, cheese with strong flavors go well with red wine, while softer cheese or of cow milk go well with white wine.
If you wish to know more, the following article has some interesting facts about cheese and, if you suddenly have a craving for any of the varieties, you may purchase the typical Spanish cheese from our online store. Take a look at our wide range of cheese.