Welcome to the ongoing “Cheese In Depth” series. The last installment explored the realm of semi-firm cheeses: sliceable, buttery cheeses with subtle charms. This month, we begin looking at, by far, the largest category of cheese, the hard, aged cheeses.Complex, compelling and totally addictive, Aged cheeses are long lasting and packed with flavor.
A broad category, aged cheeses take up the most real estate in any well-curated cheese shop, and with good reason. Not only are these cheeses complex, compelling and totally addictive, they are tough cookies and have an incredibly long lifespan in the cheese case.
The texture variations are almost as varied as the flavor profiles, from dense and creamy to hard and almost granular. The alluring flavor and unique texture of each cheese stems directly from the recipe and influenced greatly by the time spent aging.
Their almost miraculous keeping properties were a boon in the days before refrigeration, as aged cheeses can hold their flavor and form over months and even years making them the ideal peasant food.Perhaps one of the reasons cheese is so widely loved is that humans evolved with cheese.
Perhaps one of the reasons cheese is so widely loved is that humans evolved with cheese. It was a valued part of the diet of rural communities for centuries; a nutrient dense storehouse of energy in a tasty, easily preserved form. For centuries, cheese was a main source of sustenance during the lean winter and early spring months when fresh food was scarce and meat was a privilege of nobles and the wealthy.