Glossary of Cheese Terms


A.O.C – Appellation d’origine controlee. ‘The controlled destination of origin’, it is a French governing body whose primary role is to regulate the quality and origin of French cheeses.
Affinage – the craft of maturing and aging cheeses.
Affineur – a specialist in the art of maturing cheeses.
Artisanal – handmade cheeses using traditional methods and made in small batches.
Acidic – a description for cheeses with sour or citric flavours.
Aroma – the smell of the cheese, pungent (strong) or sweet.
Annatto – a natural food colouring agent derived from the Annatto berry, found in South America.
Bacteria – single cell organisms found everywhere. Bacteria is very important in the production of all types of cheese and are generally non-pathogenic.
Bloomy mould – the light ‘cauliflower’ mould we see on brie and camembert style cheeses.
Barnyardy/Farmy – a term for cheeses displaying strong farm-related aromas.
B-linens – a ‘good’ type of bacteria encouraged by washing cheeses. Found in washed rind cheeses hence the orange colour and gritty rind featured on washed rind cheese.
Brine – a salt water solution often used to wash cheeses.
Cheesemonger – a knowledgeable cheese salesperson, also known as a Fromager.
Cheddaring – the process of making cheddar. Curds are cut and pressed 2-3 times before being layered in slabs and pressed on a cheddar machine.
Curd – coagulation of milk after using rennet or lactic fermentation.
Culture - Starter cultures speed and control the process of curdling milk during cheese making in part by converting lactose to lactic acid.
Coagulate – A step in cheese manufacture when milk's protein, casein, is clotted by the action of rennet or acids. The joining of enzymes.
Earthy – a word for describing cheeses with rustic and hearty flavours. Normally cheeses exhibiting hints of mushrooms and grass.
Fermier – handmade cheeses using traditional methods and made in small batches. Cheeses must be made using raw milk raised either on the farm or from the region. Cheeses are made in Mountain huts or small farmhouses.
Herbaceous – a term for describing cheeses with exhibit flavours of grass, flowers and herbs.
Lactic – (1) A general description applied to cheese exhibiting a clean, wholesome, milky and slightly acidic flavour or aroma. (2) The type of organisms included in starter cultures for cheesemaking.
Moulds – The baskets/hoops in which the cheeses are shaped.
Meillieur Ouvrier – a title earned for excellence in any field. Awarded to those who work hard to promote and encourage French products.
Nutty – a word for describing cheeses. Generally relates to hard mountain cheeses such as Comte or Appenzeller.
Non-animal rennet – Rennet created chemically using products such as fungi or thistle rather than livestock.
Pate - the interior of the cheese.
Piquant – sharp or spicy in taste
Pasteurised – The process of heating milk to a specific temperature for a specific period of time in order to eliminate any disease-producing bacteria. Milk is heated at 72 degrees C for at least 15 seconds.
Rennet - 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.
Rind – The outer surface of the cheese, formed to protect the pate.
Ripe – When a cheese is ready to be eaten.
Terroir – refers to the region/land the cheese is from.
Thermised – the process of heating milk to less than 160 degrees F for less than 15 seconds prior to using it for cheese making.
Washed rind – A cheese rind that has been washed periodically with brine, whey, beer, cider, wine, brandy or oil during ripening.
Whey – the watery part of milk which separated from the coagulated curds during cheese making. Whey is generally mixed with molasses and fed back to the animals to help promote strength amongst the animals in smaller farms.
Un-Pasteurised/Raw – Milk that has not undergone the pasteurisation treatment.


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