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Caputo Cheese Market

To Place Orders, call 708-450-0469

Cheese Glossary


(1) The French word meaning to finish or refine. A washed-rind cheese, for example, may be affine au marc de borgogne, meaning the rind has been washed with marc, a white brandy made from grape pomace during curing. (2) The process of curing cheeses. (3) One who finishes or cures cheese would be an affineur.


Generally describes a cheese that has been cured longer than six months. Aged cheeses are characterized as having more pronounced and fuller, sometimes sharper flavors than medium-aged or current-aged cheeses.


A natural vegetable dye used to give many cheese varieties, especially the Cheddars, a yellow-orange hue. Annatto is odorless, tasteless and is not a preservative.


A term describing cheese made in small batches, often with milk from a limited number of farms. Having unique texture or taste profiles developed in small sealed production or by specialized producers.


The French word for blue that is used in reference to the Blue-veined cheese varieties. Blue molds are typically Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum. Famous varieties include Bleu, Gorgonzola and Stilton.

Bloomy Rind

A descriptive term for an edible cheese rind (crust) that is covered with a harmless, flavor-producing growth of white Penicillium mold. The bloomy rind is formed by spraying the cheese surface with spores of Penicillium candidum mold before curing. Occasionally, brown, pink or red specks are interspersed through the white mold as it ages or cures. Bloomy-rind cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert and some Chèvres, are classified as soft-ripened.


A characteristic of cheese varieties that develop blue or green streaks of harmless, flavor-producing mold throughout the interior. Generally, veining gives cheese an assertive and piquant flavor.


A term describing a traditional-size Fresh Mozzarella ball, weighing 1-3/4 ounces. Bocconcini translates from Italian to English meaning little mouthfuls.


A salt-and-water solution in which some cheese varieties are washed or dipped during the cheesemaking process. Certain cheeses, such as Feta, are packed or stored in brine.


A step in the manufacture of some cheese varieties where the whole cheese is floated briefly in a brine solution. Brining is common in the production of Mozzarella, Provolone, Swiss, Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Butterfat (Fat, Milkfat)

The amount of butterfat/fat in any cheese. Fat content is determined by analyzing the fat in the dry matter of cheese. The fat is expressed as a percentage of the entire dry matter. In reference to cheese fat, milkfat and butterfat are synonymous.


Years ago, Provolone was transported via horseback to market. The common style for this cheese was Caciocavallo. This cheese style is long, slender and cylinder in shape, with a notch around the cylinder's top to accommodate a rope used to tie around the body of the cheese.


The principal protein in milk. During the cheesemaking process, casein solidifies, curdles or coagulates into cheese through the action of rennet.


The process used in making Cheddar whereby piles of small curds, which have been separated from the whey, are knit together and cut into slabs. The slabs are then repeatedly turned over and stacked to help drain additional whey and aid in the development of the proper acidity (pH) and body of the cheese. These slabs are then cut or milled into curds and placed in the cheese forms and pressed.

Cheese Monger

An American term for a knowledgeable cheese sales person.


The plural form of the French word for goat originally used to classify all goat cheeses produced in France, but now commonly refers to all goat cheeses, regardless of their origin.

Creams, Single, Double or Triple

A classification of cheese derived from the butterfat content on a dry matter basis. Single Creams contain at least 50% butterfat in the cheese solids (dry matter); Double Creams contain at least 60% butterfat; and Triple Creams contain 72% or more butterfat. See Milkfat Content and Milkfat in the Dry Matter (FDM).

Culture (Starter)

A culture that normally consists of varying percentages of lactic acid, bacterial or mold spores, enzymes or other micro-organisms and natural chemicals. Starter cultures speed and control the process of curdling milk during cheesemaking in part by converting lactose to lactic acid. They also lend unique flavor characteristics to the cheese.

Curdling (Coagulation)

A step in cheese manufacture when milk’s protein, casein, is clotted by the action of rennet or acids.

Double Cream

The French term for cheese containing at least 60 percent butterfat in the cheese solids (dry matter).


A void or hole within cheese caused by the formation of trapped gas as a result of fermentation during the curing process. The presence of eyes is typical of Swiss-type cheeses and can range from pin size to pea size or larger.

Firm (Hard)

A classification of cheese varieties exhibiting a relatively inelastic and unyielding texture like Asiago, Cotija and Parmesan. Federal Standards of Identity state that firm cheeses have a maximum moisture content of 34 percent and a minimum milkfat content of 50 percent.


The Italian word for cheese.


A term typically used to classify cheese varieties that have not been cured, such as Mascarpone, Cottage cheese, Cream cheese or Ricotta. Cheeses that have been cured for very short periods, such as Feta, may also be classified as fresh.

Fresh Mozzarella

A soft Mozzarella with a high-moisture content, meant to be eaten soon after it is produced. In Italy, balls (Bocconcini) of Fresh Mozzarella are stored in water and usually consumed the same day they are made. Due to high-moisture content, Fresh Mozzarella has a very short shelf life.


The French word for cheese.


The Italian term for hard-grating cheese referring to a cheese's hard granular texture. Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano and Sapsago are among the grana-type cheese varieties.


The Dutch word for cheese.


The German word for cheese.

Medium-aged (Mellow)

Generally semi-firm, firm or hard cheeses that have been cured for three to six months. Medium-aged cheeses are usually mellow and smooth textured. Frequently used to describe Cheddars.

Milkfat Content

The fat content of cheese expressed as a percentage of the total cheese weight. Milkfat content depends upon the richness of milk used in cheesemaking and how much moisture is lost during ripening. Synonymous with butterfat.

Moisture Content (Fat Content)

The amount of butterfat/fat in any cheese. Fat content is determined by analyzing the fat in the dry matter of cheese. The fat is expressed as a percentage of the entire dry matter. In reference to cheese fat, milkfat and butterfat are synonymous. See Dry Matter.


(1) A condition created by the growth of various fungi during ripening, contributing to the individual character of cheese. Surface molds ripen from the rind inward. Internal molds, such as those used for Blue-veined cheeses, ripen throughout the cheese. A moldy character can be clean and attractive, or unpleasantly musty or ammoniated. (2) Refers to the fungus itself. (3) A hoop or container in which cheese is shaped.


(1) A general classification for cheese that is made directly from milk. Whether the milk is pasteurized or unpasteurized has no bearing on the designation as natural. (2) Refers to the cheesemaking process whereby cheese is made directly from milk by coagulating or curdling the milk, stirring and heating the curd, draining the whey and collecting or pressing the curd.

Natural Rind

A rind that develops naturally on the cheese exterior through drying while ripening without the aid of ripening agents or washing. Most semi-hard or hard cheeses have natural rinds that may be thin like that of bandaged Cheddar or thick like that of Parmesan, Pecorino Romano and wheel Swiss (Emmentaler).


A descriptive term for cheese with a nut-like flavor, a characteristic of Swiss types. Cheddars may exhibit a flavor reminiscent of walnuts; fresh goat cheese and Gruyère are said to resemble the taste of hazelnuts. The flavor blends causing this characteristic are actually found in nuts.

Pasta Filata

Translated literally from Italian, to spin paste or threads. Pasta Filata refers to a type of cheese where curds are heated and then stretched or kneaded before being molded into the desired shape. The resulting cheese has great elasticity and stretches when cooked or melted. Cheeses in this family include Mozzarella, Provolone and String.


A descriptive term for the interior texture of soft-ripened cheeses, such as Brie, that exhibit a semi-soft to runny consistency.


Principal genus of fungi used to develop molds on certain cheese varieties during ripening. Penicillium candidum is used to develop many soft-ripened cheeses, such as Brie; Penicillium glaucum or roqueforti are used for Gorgonzola and Roquefort® cheeses, respectively.

Pressed Cheese

A descriptive term for cheese whose curd has been placed in a mold and literally pressed to form the intended shape of the finished cheese. Fresh, uncured cheese varieties, such as Cream or Feta, and cured cheeses, such as Brick, Cheddar, Parmesan and Romano, are examples of pressed cheese.

Process Cheese (Pasteurized Process Cheese)

A blend of fresh and aged natural cheeses that have been shredded, mixed, and heated (cooked) with an addition of an emulsifier salt, after which no further ripening occurs.


The Portuguese word for cheese.


The Spanish word for cheese.

Raw Milk

Milk that has not undergone pasteurization.


An extract from the membranes of calves' stomachs that contains rennin, an enzyme that aids in coagulating milk or separating curds from whey. Rennet-like enzymes, also used commercially, are produced by selected fungi and bacteria.


The outer surface of cheese. A rind varies in texture, thickness and color. Cheeses may be rindless, display natural rinds or possess rinds that are produced by harmless mold. See Bloomy Rind and Natural Rind.


A step in the cheesemaking process requiring the addition of salt. Depending upon the cheese variety, salt can be added while the cheese is in curd form or rubbed on the cheese after it is pressed. Salt is used to help preserve cheese, as well as to enhance its flavor. Cheese also may be soaked in a salt solution, a process termed brining.


A classification of cheese based upon body. Cheddar, Colby, Edam and Gouda are examples of semi-hard cheese varieties.


A wide variety of cheeses made with whole milk. Cheeses in this category include Monterey Jack, Brick, Muenster, Fontina and Havarti, and melt well when cooked.


A descriptive flavor term referring to the fully developed flavor of aged cheeses, such as Cheddar, Provolone and some Blue-veined varieties. The flavor is actually sharp and biting, but not excessively acrid or sour.


A classification of cheese made from ewe's milk.


A very popular style or form with many varieties of cheese. Manufacturers now make standard, small strip shreds to fancy, very fine strip shreds of cheese. This form is ideal when cooking with cheese.


Another popular style or form of cheese is the slice. First incorporated into the world of American Pasteurized Process cheese, you can now find hundreds of natural cheese varieties in this form.


A classification of cheese based upon body. Brie and Camembert are examples of soft-ripened cheese varieties.


A category of cheeses with high-moisture content that are typically direct-set with the addition of lactic acid cultures. Cheeses in this category include Cottage cheese, Cream cheese and Neufchâtel, Feta, Mascarpone, Ricotta and Queso Blanco. See Direct-set.


A term referring to cheese that ripens from the exterior when a harmless mold, yeast or bacteria is applied to the surface. Bloomy-rind cheeses, like Brie and Camembert, and washed-rind cheeses, like Limburger, are both surface-ripened.

Triple Cream

The French term for cheese which contains over 72 percent butterfat in the cheese solids. See Creams and Fat Content.


A cheese rind that has been washed periodically with brine, whey, beer, cider, wine, brandy or oil during ripening. The rind is kept moist to encourage the growth of an orange-red bacteria. The bacteria may be scraped off, dried or left to further rind development. Washed-rind and bloomy-rind cheeses compose what is termed the soft-ripening (surfaced-ripened) classification. Limburger is a washed-rind cheese.


Prior to airtight shrink bags, cheesemakers would wrap their cheese in cheesecloth and dip in wax for preservation. Many wax colors denote some attribute of that cheese. For example, with Cheddar: clear = mild, red = medium, and black = aged or sharp.


(1) The thin, watery part of milk that separates from the coagulated curds during the first step of the cheesemaking process. It still contains most of the milk sugar or lactose found in milk. (2) A classification of cheeses made predominantly from the whey obtained during the manufacture of other cheeses like Gjetost. Ricotta can be made from whey.

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