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Cheese Glossary: Common Terms


Talk like a true turophile using these commonly used cheese terms.


Creamline: The layer of cheese just inside the rind, which tends to be creamier and runnier than the interior paste.

Paste: The interior of a cheese beneath the outer rind, which can range in texture from soft and creamy to firm and smooth to hard, dry, and crunchy.

Rind: The exterior of a cheese. This can be inedible (plastic, wax, or cloth), natural, mold-covered, or flavored.

Pasta filata: Italian for “spun paste,” a style of cheese in which curds are heated and then stretched or kneaded before being molded into a desired shape, creating elastic cheeses like mozzarella and provolone that stretch when melted.

Washed rind: A cheese bathed in brine, whey, beer, cider, wine, or brandy during ripening to encourage the growth of certain micro-organisms that lend a pungent aroma, savory flavor, and a reddish-orange rind. 

Alpine style: Wheels made in the style of those indigenous to the Alps—such as Gruyère and Emmentaler—which tend to be large, firm, and cave-aged.

Eyes: Holes within a cheese’s paste formed by gas trapped as a result of fermentation.

Bloomy rind: Cheese covered in a harmless white mold that allows it to ripen from the outside in and retain a high percentage of moisture.

Natural rind: Cheeses matured in the presence of oxygen with minimal disturbance to ensure their rinds are colonized by various bacteria, yeasts, and molds from the surrounding environment and the milk.

Blue cheese: Cheeses inoculated with blue mold spores, which grow in the crevices and holes in the paste during aging. Often, wheels are pierced with thin needles to allow oxygen into the cheese, encouraging the growth of that mold.

Clothbound cheddar: A traditional style of cheddar originating in England. Wheels are coated in fat and wrapped in cloth before aging in a cave, where they develop a natural rind and crumbly, firm texture.

Illustrations by Tom Bingham

Molly McDonough

Former Senior Editor Molly McDonough worked for cheesemakers in Switzerland and the US before earning a Master's degree in Agriculture and Food Science at the Ecole Supérieure d'Agriculture in Angers, France. After spending a year in Romania working on rural development projects with Heifer International, she returned home to Boston and joined the culture team in 2015.

Amy Scheuerman

Amy Scheuerman—culture's former web director—spent eight years in North Carolina where she developed a love of barbecue and biscuits before moving up north to get a degree in nutrition. She now works at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

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