Accoutrement: things you put on a cheese board to sex up the platter. Think honey, jam, crackers, juicy pickles, and plump olives.
Affine: to age cheese. It means “refine” in French and refers to the art of curing a cheese in a carefully controlled environment to help develop all the molds and bacteria in and on the cheese.
Affineur: a cheese nanny. This is someone who takes care of cheese wheels as they age and mature.
Ammoniated: this is a term that describes cheese that smells or tastes of ammonia. This is not a good thing – it means a cheese was mishandled or has overripened. If your cheese smells like a litter box, don’t eat it.
Annatto: this is what cheesemakers add to cheddar and Mimolette to make it orange. It’s an all-natural vegetable-derived dye that’s virtually tasteless and odorless.
Blue cheese: the funky cheeses with veins and pockets of blue mold, like Roquefort, Stichelton, and Bayley Hazen Blue. They can also have blue molds on the outer rind, too.
Casein: The main protein in milk. This is what coagulates into cheese. It’s also what makes cheese so stretchy.
Cave or Cellar: This is where a lot of cheeses are aged. A cheese cave or cellar has the optimum airflow, temperature, and humidity levels to keep cheese consistently comfortable as they grow up.
Cooked: Some hard cheeses are made by heating or “cooking” the curd to help release extra moisture. This preps the cheese for long periods of aging.
Curdle: When rennet is added to milk, it separates or “curdles” into solids and liquid. Also called “coagulate”.
Cheddaring: This is a process used in making cheddar, obviously. After the cheese is coagulated, the curds are drained, cut into smaller pieces, and pressed into big slabs, which are stacked on top of each other. Then, these slabs are turned. This drains the whey and helps develop that tangy acidity in cheddar. The slabs are then cut up again and molded for aging.
Cheese Monger: Some of the best kinds of people! They’re the knowledgeable cheese lovers who care for cheese and help guide hungry consumers to their destined cheese.
Chevre: the French term for a cheese made from goat milk.
Coagulate: see “curdle.”
Creamline: the soft, sexy layer of ooze right between the rind and paste. It’s one of the best things about cheese.
Defect: The beauty of artisan cheese is that it’s never quite the same. Imperfections keep things interesting and are expected, but occasionally there are also defects, which are any less-than-ideal qualities in a cheese. These can be caused by errors in manufacturing, handling, or contamination and include dents and discolorations on the rind or in the paste.
Double Cream: a cheese that contains a butterfat content of at least 60%. Note: this is calculated in the dry matter, without the water content.
Eyes: the little dots and holes in cheese. Think of a classic Swiss Emmentaler.
Farmstead Cheese: a cheese that is made using milk from animals that live on the same premises as the creamery.
Formaggio: Italian for “cheese.”
Fromage: French for “cheese.”
Molds: these are partly responsible for turning rinds into rich, ecosystems which result in some crazy tasty cheeses. There are a lot of yeasts and bacteria that help with that too.
Paste: the inside layer beneath the rind. It’s basically the “meat” of a cheese.
Pasteurization: the process of heating up milk to kill bacteria.
Queso: Spanish for “cheese.”
Raw Milk: untreated, virgin milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. This milk has all kinds of enzymes and bacteria that bring out unique tastes and textures when they become cheese.
Rind: the protective outer layer that’s basically the cheese’s skin. Some are soft, some are stinky, some are edible, and some are coated in wax or cloth.
Starter Culture: a culture that contains lactic acid, mold spores, enzymes, or other micro-organisms to jumpstart the cheesemaking process.
Washed-rind: a cheese that is washed in a brine or solution to help certain bacteria grow. Most of these guys are stanky AF and often taste like beef and mustard.