There are many different styles of cheese, each one with a different flavour and texture profile, as well as made in very different ways. Semi-hard cheese is perhaps one of those categories that gets forgotten or even misinterpreted. However it is the category that holds many of our favourite cheeses! In this article, we look at what is a semi-hard cheese, as well as some examples and their key features that make it distinguishable.
What is Semi-Hard Cheese?
Semi-hard cheese is the perfect balance in textures as well as flavours. It has a well-rounded texture, between moist and acidic, it also has a mild taste and aroma. Usually, it is made with cows milk can be sweet, buttery and salty in flavour. A common example of a semi-hard cheese is cheddar.
How is Semi-Hard Cheese Typically Made?
Compressed curds release excess whey (moisture) which causes the cheese to dry out. Artisanal cheddar makers will use this process repetitively, this is known as cheddaring. Semi-hard cheeses are matured for anytime between 1-12 months.
They are often left alone during maturation to form a natural rind, however, the cheese may be washed in brine straight after cheese making. This helps to create an edible rind that is stronger in flavour.
Alternatively, retain excess moisture using a wax or cloth coating to act as a natural protector. Remove the wax or cloth before eating the cheese.
What is the Texture of Semi-Hard Cheese?
Semi-hard cheeses have the perfect balance in texture. Creamy and smooth as well as being a little dense, dry and crumbly. Also, they are very good at melting, this is because there is a good balance of moisture, acidity and firmness in the cheese, therefore having a higher melting point of 65℃.
Semi-hard cheeses are the perfect balance of well-rounded flavours. Normally made with good quality cows milk, this provides a sweet, buttery cheese with a mild salty flavour. Semi-hard cheeses can often have a mild toasted hazelnut flavour. They have a very mild taste and aroma. Therefore, making it the perfect crowd pleaser in dishes as well as on cheeseboards.
Typical examples of semi-hard cheeses include cheddar, as well as gouda and a variety of French/Swiss cheese, for example, Comte and Gruyere.