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7 International Cheeses That Will Make Your Mouth Water

We sampled some of the most popular cheeses from around the world. Prepare to get hungry.
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7 International Cheeses That Will Make Your Mouth Water

Americans love cheese. According to a report, Americans consumed an average of nearly 37 pounds of cheese per capita in 2016. That’s a lot of cheese! But who can blame them? There are so many delicious types of cheese from countries all around the world. We decided to take a closer look at seven of the most popular international cheeses from a variety of countries, delving into a bit of the history and culture surrounding each one, and then, of course, tasting them. Fair warning: these reviews may cause extreme cravings. Without further ado, let’s get cheesy!

English Cheddar

Brief History

Cheddar cheese was invented in the village of Cheddar, England, in the Middle Ages. It was originally a clever way to use up excess milk, but today it’s one of the most popular types of cheese in the world. There is one cheese producer left in Cheddar, England: the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company. It produces a mere fraction of the amount of cheese larger companies make around the world, however.

How It’s Made

Cheddar Gorge still makes the cheese the original way, which involves heating unpasteurized milk, adding bacteria and enzymes, and then separating the curds (which are solid) from the whey (which is liquid). Once the curds are formed into rounds of cheese, they’re covered with linen cloth and the cheese matures (larger companies use plastic coverings). High-quality, artisan cheddar is aged for up to a year.

What We Thought

According to statistical analyst Ting, “This medium hard cheddar packs a sour/tangy punch that mellows out and leaves you with nothing but a nutty nostalgia.”

Spanish Manchego

Brief History

According to archeological evidence, Manchego cheese is thought to have been around since ancient times. It has always been and continues to be made only in La Mancha, a region of central Spain. In fact, the Manchego cheese produced in La Mancha (if it meets specific characteristics) has been given a Denominación de Origen (“Designation of Origin”) from the Spanish government, labeling it as the highest-quality food product. The true Manchego, if you will.

How It’s Made

The key feature of Manchego cheese is that it’s made from sheep’s milk rather than cow’s, specifically the sheep from the plains of La Mancha. Apparently, the native grass and herbs the sheep graze on give Manchego its distinct flavor. The ewes are milked by hand, enzymes are added and the curds that form are cut into bits and aged for no less than 30 days and no more than two years.

What We Thought

Product manager Wyatt said, “It’s a strong cheese that needs no accompaniment, but pairs well with a nice red wine, which balances its slightly dry texture. It doesn’t come with many surprises, but it always keeps me coming back.”

Dutch Gouda

Brief History

Gouda has been produced in the Netherlands since the 12th century. It gets its name from the city of Gouda, located in the province of South Holland, but it did not originate there. Merchants and cheese producers came together in this city to trade goods, which is why the cheese was named after it. To this day, traders will still travel to Gouda, dressed in old-fashioned attire, to sell their cheese.

How It’s Made

Originally, Gouda was made using unpasteurized cow’s milk covered with a yellow wax to keep it from drying out. It’s now usually made with pasteurized milk, but some farms in the Netherlands still make it the original way, which is called Boerenkaas (“farmer’s cheese”). This raw milk version is protected by EU trade laws.

What We Thought

Here’s what editorial fellow Sierra said: “The Dutch Gouda was very sharp in flavor, but creamy enough to not be super overbearing. In my opinion, it’s the cheesy compromise of being the perfect grilled cheese sandwich cheese, while also accompanying wine just as well. It melts in your mouth.”

French Comté

Brief History

Originating in the 11th or 12th century, Comté cheese is produced in the mountainous Jura Massif region of eastern France. Thousands of family farms have been producing this cheese for centuries, with the milk of cows exclusively from the Montbéliarde and French Simmental breeds.

How It’s Made

The special cows used to make Comté are given over two acres of land, in which they graze on natural grass, as well as local hay in the colder months. Raw milk is used in the production of the cheese, which is pre-ripened for a few weeks and then moved to a cellar where it matures for somewhere between four and 24 months, and is regularly turned, salted and rubbed with a brine solution.

What We Thought

Our designer Ally said, “Comté is a hard cheese that tastes similar to orange Swiss cheese. It has a subtle flavor that’s almost meaty — kind of like salami. It’s weird, but in a good way.”

Italian Burrata

Brief History

The Washington Post once described burrata as “the luscious cousin of mozzarella.” One of the more recently invented cheeses on our list, burrata originated in the Andulia (or Puglia) region of southern Italy in the 1920s. Its name comes from the Italian word burro (“butter”) due to its creamy, buttery flavor. It remained a local delicacy until the 1960s, when it spread throughout Italy.

How It’s Made

Burrata is a hollow ball of (originally buffalo’s, but now usually cow’s) milk mozzarella cheese, filled with panna — a rich cream containing mozzarella curds. Historically, burrata was wrapped in an asphodel leaf to determine freshness — if the leaves were alive and healthy, the cheese was still fresh.

What We Thought

This is what executive producer of content Jen had to say: “It’s like a ball of fresh mozzarella stuffed with full fat cottage cheese. That doesn’t sound amazing but it’s so good. I can see why it’s paired with acidic foods like tomato and balsamic — it’s incredibly creamy.”

Greek Feta

Brief History

The first reference to cheese in Greek history was in Homer’s Odyssey, when the cyclops Polyphemus accidentally made cheese out of sheep’s milk. The name feta, which means “slice,” came into use in the 17th century and probably refers to the practice of slicing the cheese for storing or serving.

How It’s Made

Feta is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk but sometimes is a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Lactic acid starter cultures and calcium chloride are usually added to the mixture, and then after curds are formed, they’re put in brine to age for anywhere from 14 to 20 days.

What We Thought

Email marketing manager Amy said, “The texture of feta is very crumbly. It tastes pretty sour; I think it would be better with a salad or something rather than eating it plain.”

Swiss Emmentaler

Brief History

Sometimes called just Emmental cheese, Emmentaler comes from west-central Switzerland and is what we in the United States refer to simply as Swiss cheese. It was first produced in Switzerland’s Emme River Valley, possibly during the 14th century.

How It’s Made

Emmentaler is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Bacterial cultures are added to the milk and release carbon dioxide, which causes the formation of the famous holes in this type of cheese. The curds are removed and formed into large wheels, which are salted in brine and wrapped in film before being aged for at least four months.

What We Thought

Designer Drew has strong opinions about this one: “I have to say, I’ve put a lot of weird things in my mouth, and this was up there in terms of the worst-tasting. It tasted and felt like putting a rubber band in your mouth. Bitter, fleshy and not meant to be ingested.”

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