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Semifirm (or Semihard) Cheeses

Semifirm (or Semihard) Cheeses

Asiago
An Italian cow's milk cheese sold in wheels and, when semifirm, pleasantly sharp tasting and covered with an inedible rind. Also available fresh (mild) and aged (sharper). American Asiago is very mild.

Cheddar
This cow's milk cheese is appreciated for its sharp, salty flavor, which ranges from mild to sharp. Farmhouse cheddars are stronger tasting than other American cheddars.

Edam
Mildly tangy cow's milk cheese with a smooth interior covered with red wax, traditionally produced in the Netherlands in a town of the same name.

Emmentaler
A cow's milk cheese produced in the mountains of Europe, most notably Switzerland, and distinguished by its random holes, which range in size from small to quite large. Ivory colored and mildly nutty in flavor.

Fontina
A mild, fruity Italian cow's milk cheese with a pleasing firmness and light but heady aroma.

Gouda
A mild cow's milk cheese encased in red wax that is similar to Edam, although less tangy. Also made from goat's milk.

Gruyère
This smooth, creamy cow's milk cheese, produced in Switzerland and France, is revered for its nutty yet mild flavor.

Jarlsberg
A cow's milk cheese made from partially skimmed milk and characterized by its hole-filled interior and mild, slightly nutty flavor.

Manchego
A Spanish sheep's milk cheese with a mild, pale yellow interior dotted with holes. Its flavor is mild and a little salty.

Raclette
A sweet, fruity cheese with an inedible rind and pale beige interior. This cheese, produced in Switzerland and France, melts beautifully and is used for the classic Swiss melted-cheese-and-potato dish of the same name.

Reblochon
Very smooth, sweet, fruity French cheese sold formed into disks and sandwiched between two paper-thin wooden rounds. Reblochon is made with pasteurized or unpasteurized milk, the latter difficult to find outside of France.

Swiss
A generic term for a variety of cheeses typified by Switzerland's Emmentaler, above. Swiss cheeses are noted for their mild, nutlike flavor, semifirm texture and network of holes, or eyes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion, (Time-Life Books, 2000).