Fresh Cheeses

Cottage Cheese
A mild-flavored fresh cheese characterized by large or small curds mixed with a little milk or cream. Also called pot cheese. Unlike creamed, or regular, cottage cheese, dry-curd cottage cheese is not mixed with milk or cream.

Cream Cheese
A mild, tangy fresh cheese made from whole milk and extra cream. Most commercial brands contain stabilizers and other additives. Cream cheese blends deliciously with other ingredients, such as herbs, chutneys, jellies, chocolate and fruit. It is the primary ingredient in many cheesecakes and various hors d'oeuvre dips, and bagels are hardly bagels without a generous smear of cream cheese.

Crème Fraîche
Not everyone agrees that this cultured cream product is a fresh cheese, although many cheesemakers say it is. Its silken texture and pleasing sour, mildly nutty flavor make it similar to sour cream, but sweeter and even more indulgent.

Farmer Cheese
Similar in flavor to cottage cheese but with no curds. Instead, it is pressed into a block that can be sliced.

Fromage Blanc
A mild fresh cheese made from skim or whole milk, with or without cream added. It is eaten flavored with sugar as a simple dessert and also used in cooking.

A very soft, rich, smooth fresh Italian cheese made from cream, with a texture reminiscent of sour cream. Sold in plastic tubs.

A mild, creamy, spreadable yellow cheese made in Normandy, France. In the United States, low-fat cream cheese is often called Neufchâtel and is used in recipes that attempt to cut calories and fat.

Most commonly made from cow's milk, provolone is sold when young and mild and as a sharper, tangier aged cheese. Also available smoked.

Queso Fresco
A Mexican cow's milk cheese made from fresh curds pressed into round molds. The result is a soft, crumbly, slightly grainy cheese similar in taste to ricotta or farmer cheese.

A whey-based cheese produced by heating the whey left over from making sheep's, goat's, or cow's milk cheeses. Most Italian ricotta is made from sheep's milk. It takes no solid form but is sold in plastic containers. Fresh Italian ricotta is superb.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday Cooking, Equipment and Ingredients (Time-Life Books, 2000)