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Common Cheese Terminology
From factory made to gourmet goat, there are numerous kinds of cheeses available. The following are some popular terms related to wholesale and specialty cheeses.
Affinage – This is the process of aging cheese.
Artisanal Cheese – This cheese is carefully created by experienced artisans. This gourmet cheese is never made in a large factory, and it is not always available through wholesale vendors. Artisan cheese can be made from any kind of milk, from cow to goat, and special flavorings are often added.
Body – The body is the texture that a cheese has. There are many different body types of cheese. One body type of cheese is firm. Swiss and Gouda are firm cheeses. Examples of semi-soft cheeses are Monterey jack and Colby.
Butterfat Content – A cheese’s butterfat content is simply the amount of fat it contains. Many cheeses can be made low fat, including mozzarella and provolone.
Curing – Curing is when cheese is allowed to age. This process reduces the moisture content of the cheese, and it can also produce unique flavor. Some gourmet cheeses need to be cured for fairly long periods of time.
Horizontal Tasting – Horizontal tasting is the successive sampling of similar cheeses. For instance, a horizontal tasting may include different kinds of blue cheeses or cheddar cheeses. This term was originated by wine drinkers.
Paste – The paste, or pate, is the middle of cheese.
Rind – The rind is the exterior of cheese. Not only does the rind typically have a different flavor than the paste, it also helps protect the cheese.
Vertical Tasting – Vertical tasting is the successive sampling of one kind of cheese at various stages in its life. For instance, a vertical tasting may begin with mozzarella cheese that was just made and end with some that has been heavily aged.
Cheese wholesalers supply cheeses to grocery stores and other shops. They may also supply restaurants and caterers in the area. These wholesalers may also deal directly with manufacturers and sometimes with individual farmers.
Wholesalers may sell all kinds of cheese, or they may specialize in certain types. Expensive gourmet and artisan cheeses are often handled separately from common staples like cheddar and Swiss. Some wholesalers may also sell retail to the general public, albeit at higher prices.
Customers for wholesale cheese may range from fondue restaurants to wine shops and companies that put together gift baskets that might contain cheese, wine, crackers and luncheon meats. As cheese is used in all kinds of recipes, especially appetizers, keeping a supply is important to many entities and organizations. Large cheese manufacturers may handle their own wholesale sales, especially those that sell cheese spreads and pre-sliced cheeses.
A wholesaler's catalog is full of names familiar and less familiar to Americans including mozzarella, monterey jack, provolone, feta and brie. The most popular cheeses sold include mozzarella, Swiss and cheddar. Low fat cheese is also a growth area. Hard cheeses tend to sell more than soft.
There is also a strong market for artisan and gourmet cheeses, including cheeses made from sheep and goat's milk. Aged cheeses also fall into this category, and some can be extremely expensive. These specialty cheeses are often purchased straight from the farm gate. In some cases, farmers may strike an exclusive deal with a specific wholesaler. Wholesalers also handle imported cheeses, which may come from anywhere in the world. Cheese, especially hard cheese, tends to travel well.
Cheese wholesalers help make sure there is always cheese on the store shelves.