Dictionary

This is a kind of dictionary, petits mots about cheese and stuff which is good to know. By no means complete or perfect, so feel free to join in the conversation.

Affinage

French meaning maturing or aging cheese.

Affineur

A person or company occupied with maturing/aging cheese. Many of the small artisanal or farmstead cheese makers send their cheese to an affineuer for final maturing until perfect state for selling. Especially France is known for their many affineurs and one of the best reputed is MonS situated in the Roanne area. Bernard Anthony in Vieux-Ferrette is another well known Affineur. Androuet is still another well reputed one.

Alpine cheese

Term for cheese made ​​in the Alps, the parts that form the borders between Switzerland and France and Italy and to some extent Austria in any combination you wish. Certainly firm cheeses and usually cow’s milk. One of the most famous is Emmentaler which also is the origin for the idiom “Swiss cheese”. Firm cheeses are low on fluid and it increases the shelf life, which was very convenient in the old days.

AOC

Appellation d’Origine Controlée, AOC shows that a given French cheese comes from a defined area and that only this area can make this particular cheese. Usually contains also a set of other rules such as type of milk, manufacturing technology, minimum storage time, unpasteurized or not, etc.. Not all cheeses and areas are AOC. The scheme came into force in 1919 and the first cheese that received protection under the new scheme was Roquefort in 1921. Foundation of AOC derived from both tradition and laws centuries ago.

AOP

Appellation d’Origine Protégée. In principle same as AOC, but EU administered. The new system is in the process of replacing AOC. Therefore, you can find both.

Annatto

Yellow to orange vegetable dye from the pulp that surrounds the seeds of the South American Annatto tree (Achiote tree – Bixa orellana). Has historically been used for coloring both food and clothing. Annatto extract is often used for coloring some British cheeses, Shropshire Blue for example, but may also occur in ice cream, butter, sauces and fish sticks. Annatto contains bixin and norbixin that gives the yellow-orange color. May cause allergy symptoms for certain sensitive people.

Artisanal

A French word to describe that something is handmade. In English artisan means the same.

Au lait cru

Means the milk is unpasteurized. Raw milk in other words. Literally means “from raw milk”.

Bleu

French and means blue. Often used as shorthand for describing a blue cheese.

Blue cheese

Blue cheese is English and is a general description of cheeses that have had penicillin-cultures added so that the final product has small or large veins of moulds that goes through the cheese. These veins might just a well, and perhaps most often, be blue-gray or blue-green. Roquefort is the most famous, Stilton and Gorgonzola are others.

Boerenkaas

Dutch for farmstead cheese. A quality sign, look for it.

Brébis

French meaning ewe, that’s a sheep that has carried a lamb. Very often used to describe ewe’s milk cheese from the Pyrenées, but also from Corsica.

Bûche

Literally means log. Often used in conjunction with chèvre (white French goat cheese), which sometimes comes in this form. Only industrial Chèvre comes as huge logs.

Buron

A stone cottage in the mountains of the Auvergne region. Milking and cheese-making takes place here during the summer time. Same as chalet in the Alps.

Capra

Italian for chèvre. Fromaggio di Capra is a creamy Italian goat milk cheese.

Chalet

Small cottage or summer farm in the Alps where the shepherds live and farm animals seek shelter. Here cows are milked and cheese made.

Chèvre

French for goat. It is also a generic term for French goat milk cheese, preferably of the white and fresh type.

Colostrum

Colostrum is the milk that cows milk for a few days after it has calved.

Cooked

This is a process that usually refers hard cheeses, mountain cheeses for example. What happens is that the curd is heated together with the whey to normally between 45°C and 56°C (113 – 133°F) (never over 58°C / 136°F) depending on the type of cheese. The duration of the cooking also varies with the type of cheese. The curd is then placed in molds while hot and the whey drains off normally. Cooked has nothing to do with boiling or pasteurization.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese made ​​from skimmed milk and rennet. Considered to be of American origin.

Crottin

Crottin is a generic term for white goat cheese made ​​in the Loire Valley. When young it has a moist texture with a slightly volatile touch of goat. Upon ripening the cheese becomes firmer in texture and providing more taste. Generally, these cheeses includes the name of the village where it comes from, ie “Crottin de …”

Crystals

Solids that often form in firm and hard well matured cheese. Usually formed by Calcium Lactate. In artisanal cheese crystals are regarded as quality sign, while in industrially manufactured cheese often rgarede as a defect.

Cuit

Means cooked in French.

Curado

Matured or aged in Spanish. (Queso) semicurado means medium aged or (queso) curado is originally a term for a firm cheese that is made ​​from a blend of cow, goat and ewe’s milk.

Curd

The stage between milk and cheese.

Dégustation

French and means tasting.

DOP

Denominazione di Origine Protetta. Thus an Italian variant of AOP, i.e. protection of origin. Also used in Portugal.

Dry matter

Cheese consists of solids and water. Different cheeses have different amount of solids. Hard cheeses typically have more solids than soft cheeses. The fat in cheese is always measured and expressed as a percentage of dry matter. Example: A cheese with 45% fat and 50% solids contains 22.5% fat measured by total weight.

Dutch style

Usually used for cheeses of Gouda style. The French Mimolette is a Gouda style cheese.

Ewe

A female sheep that has born a lamb. In French; BREBIS (as described above).

Farmstead

American expression generally meaning that a cheese is made ​​on the farm of milk from their own herd, only.

Fermier

Fermier means farm in French. A Fermier cheese is thus a cheese that is made on a farm, same as farmstead. To be regarded as a sign of quality.

Feta

Feta is a Greek cheese with protected designation of origin. Made from sheep’s milk or sheep and goat’s milk and stored in brine. Rindless. A very copied cheese, but feta can according to the protection of origin only be made in Greece. Can be both pasteurized and unpasteurized, but more or less all Feta is pasteurized. The most exclusive varieties are barrel aged.

Fondue

Swiss national dish, but you can find it just as well on the French side of the border. Fondue is from the French verb “Fondre” meaning to melt. There are many kinds of fondues, but only cheese fondue involves any form of melting as was the original use of the word. Important to have a little kirsch and white wine in the pot with the cheese when making cheese fondue. Melt the cheese and then insert the bread pieces into the melted cheese. Served with pickled vegetables, and drink white dry white wine, preferably Swiss Valais. And then a small glass of Kirsch, or two.

Fromage

French and means cheese. Some say the word comes from Latin forma which means form or shape. Word forum is also the name of some cheeses. Fourme de …

Fromager

A person selling cheese, also owner of a fromagerie, a cheese shop.

Fromagerie

A cheese shop that sells great cheeses you do not find on the supermarket shelves, often artisan and fermier cheeses from home and abroad.

Geitost

This is the generic name for the famous Norwegian brown cheese. (Often wrongfully referred to as Gjetost). In my opinion not really a cheese. They whey is boiled until it becomes firm. Sometimes milk or cream is added.

Geotrichum Candidum

Geotrichum candidum something in-between yeast and moulds. It is very useful for ripening bloomy rind cheeses and it is used to limit the growth of Penicillium Candidum commomly used on bloomy rind cheeses such as Brie and Camembert. It is also frequently used to limit growth of Brevibacterium linens on washed rind cheeses.
Geotrichum candidum appears freely in our environment and will grow selfinflicted if circumstances allow, i.e. temperature above approx. 60 degrees F. Gives the rind a matte off-white surface. If the cheese has a high content of water the Geotrichum c. will turn the rind wrinky; most often seen on chèvres.

Grating cheese

Cheese which is particularly good to grate. Generally, hard and dry. Best example is Parmigiano Reggiano. Most hard cheeses melts well.

Hard cheeses

Cheeses with a high content of dry matter. Hard cheeses may be made ​​of any type of milk. Manchego (Spain), Pecorino (Italy) and Ossau-Iraty-BREBIS (Pyrenees) are examples of good hard sheep’s (ewe’s) milk cheeses. Parmigiano Reggiano is perhaps the most famous hard cheese.

IGP

Means Indication Geographique Protégée and given to cheeses that come from a given area but is not necessarily unique. Emmental de Savoie and Tomme de Savoie are two examples of IGP cheeses.

Kaas

Dutch meaning cheese.

Kasein

The main milk protein. This protein coagulates when rennet is added to the milk and we have curd, which then is transformed to cheese, basically.

Lactobacillus helveticus

This is a bacterium starter culture that has become very popular especially among American industrial cheesemakers for their cheddar style cheeses aimed at the mainstream market as it gives the cheese a big, sweet and easily accessible flavour. Forget traces of breed, fodder, season or terroir in your cheese.

Laiterie

French and means dairy, we are talking about large industrial dairies.

Laitier

French and means a dairy worker, or one who sells milk.

Leche cruda

Spanish and means raw milk, i.e. unpasteurized milk.

Listeria

A pathogenic bacteria that may be present in milk and most other foods. Always a result of poor hygiene.

Mikrofiltered milk

During microfiltration the milk is first separated, which means the cream is separated from the milk and you are left with skimmed milk. The cream is then pasteurized. The skimmed milk is pressed through a microfilter to remove any unwanted bacteria, spores, etc. Thereafter, cream and milk are blended, enzyme also often added, such as lactic acid bacteria, to preserve the proteins and vitamins better.

Moulds

Penicillium candidum or Penicillum camemberti are both white moulds used to form the bloomy rind of Camembert, Brie and other cheeses of the same style. Penicillum is often shortened to P. Geotrichum candidum (see this) often grows together with other moulds. It prevents P. candidum to take complete control of a cheese, and it prepares the ground or rind rather, for Brevibacterium Linens forming the rind on washed rind cheeses. For P. roqueforti and P. glaucum, (see Blue cheese.) P. candidum and P. Camemberti are both related to P. chrysogenum which is the source of the medicine Penicillin. This relationship is not so close that eating cheese with bloomy rinds helps against any bacterial infections. It is also not proven that people who are allergic to Penicillin are allergic to bloomy rind cheese (or blue cheese for that sake).

Soft matured cheese

Made by growing moulds on the outside of soft cheese. Soft cheese is ripened from the outside in, and therefore often have a slightly harder core. Brie and Camembert are typical examples. See also washed rind cheeses.

Natamycin

E235 is an antibiotic often applied to industrially made ​​cheese and cured sausages to prevent moulds. Sadly enough, rarely declared.

Ost

Ost means cheese in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.

Pasteurization

Means, what cheese is concerned, that the milk is heated to 72-75° C (161-167° F) for 15 seconds and then rapidly cooled down to max. 4° C (39° F). This is the most common form of pasteurization. Milk is pasteurized to kill potentially dangerous (pathogene) bacteria due to (potentially) poor hygiene. The process also kills good bacteria. Milk can also be pasteurized by heating it at 60-65° C (140-149° F)for about 30 minutes and then rapidly cool down to 4° C (39° F). This is called low grade pasteurization (Wikipedia). There are even more severe degrees of pasteurization like: high grade pasteurization, ultra-pasteurization and sterilization.

Pathogene bacteria

Pathogene bacteria are bacteria that are pathogenic, i.e. may cause disease. For milk and cheese this is mainly all about listeria.

PDO

Protected Designation of Origin. Same as AOC or AOP but is an EU English language classification term. 45 of the 49 French AOC/AOP-cheeses are also PDO-approved by the EU.

Propionibacterium

Added to milk before rennet is added. Cheese that has been added propionibacterium forms especially marked holes during the aging process. Emmental and Jarlsberg for example are both known for their holes!

Pyrenées

Mountain range on the border between France and Spain. Known for lots of good food, including cheese, especially ewe’s milk cheeses. Very beautiful and worth a visit.

Queijo

Portguese for cheese.

Raclette

A cheese and a dish. To prepare the Raclette dish a special Raclette-iron is used. Eat with boiled potatoes, charcuterie in one form or the other, pickled vegetables and good bread. Very popular dish in Switzerland. Raclette cheese melts well.

Raw milk

Raw milk is the same as unpasteurized milk. In French it is called Lait Cru.

Rennet

Rennet or Chymosin is an enzyme that one might get from calves’ stomachs (calf’s fourth stomach) (or lambs’ or goat kids’) that makes the milk coagulate thus separating the curds from the whey. Technically, it is the milk protein Casein which coagulates. French rennin. Italian Caglio and Spanish Cuajo. There are vegetable rennet used by some, but it is not widespread, although some British, American and Portuguese cheese makers use it.

Rind

The outermost layer of cheese. Usually consists of various types of bacteria and formed during maturation to protect the cheese paste.

Stabilized

A stabilized cheese is cheese that is fully matured.

Swiss style

A term used to describe the typical Swiss cheese style. Firm cheeses. From France; Emmental de Savoie, Beaufort and Comté are typical examples. Jarlsberg is also a Swiss style cheese. Not aterm used in Switzerland.

Sweet cheese

Usually a soft and fresh cheese. Cream cheese for example.

Termized

When milk is heated to around 55° C (131° F) for about 15 seconds and is often done in those cases where cheese is not made every day, so the milk has to be stored. When milk is not made into cheese while completely fresh there might be a risk of rancidity and termizing prevents this. This process will not kill any potential pathogenic bacteria in the milk, but some of the good ones.

Territorial

A term used about British cheese which are named after the area they come from, or originally came from. Lancashire, Cheshire and Red Leicester are typical examples of territorials.

Toma

Toma is Italian and means a cheese that is made by the farmer himself.

Tomme

Means cylinder or cylinder shaped. Often used in the name of mountain cheeses from France. Tomme the Savoie for example. With this name the cheeses are obviously cylindrical.

Turophile

That’s me! From Greek τυρός (turós – “cheese”) + -phile. A cheese connoisseur. (Wikipedia)

Unpasteurized cheese

Cheese made ​​from milk that has not been pasteurized,i.e. raw milk. Unpasteurized cheese is generally considered by connoisseurs being of better quality and taste more than pasteurized cheeses. Requires strict hygienic control. Many of the small farm dairies make unpasteurized cheese. There is a general notion that, as a precaution, pregnant women should stay away from unpasteurized cheese. Well, as a matter of fact they should stay away from any soft cheese, washed rind and blue cheeses actually, both unpasteurized and pasteurized.

Vache

Vache means cow in French.

Washed rind cheese

Washed rind cheese is a common term for cheeses where maturation occurs from the surface inwards. These cheeses are smeared with a maturing culture, but this culture is often sitting in the room so that the process starts by itself. During maturation the cheeses are washed in brine many times, depending on how strong flavor is desired. It also turned regularly during maturation. Munster and Epoisses are two famous washed rind cheeses from France.They tend to have a yellow/reddish rind.

Vegetable rennet

Assumed “invented” by Sephardic Jews in a western Spain and eastern Portugal about 1500 years ago. They added rennet made from thistle to make cheese according to Kosher rules.

Whey

The surplus watery stuff you get when rennet is added to milk and the milk protein coagulates. In Norway this whey is used for making brown “cheese”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.