There is actually no special regulation which would officially mark cheeses as sharp and mild. However, they differ not only in their smells and tastes, but also in their appearances and interiors. So, the category of sharp cheeses is rather tacit, but at the same time it is generally accepted.
Why Is It a Sharp Cheese?
Naturally, such cheese is both sharp-flavored and sharp-tasting. It develops its unique flavor properties while going through the stages of the sophisticated manufacturing process. Generally, it covers two main factors affecting the ways the cheese acquires its sharpness. One of them is the bacteria producing special ferments while the cheese is maturing. Reacting with the substances in the product, these enzymes tend to reveal dense and spicy cheese flavors. Yet the more important factor is aging. The cheeses considered as sharp usually ripen for 6 to 9 months, and sometimes for a year or more. Nevertheless, not only aged and hence firm cheeses can be sharp. Soft cheeses maturing mostly for 2 to 4 months can also be included to the category. So, the sharp cheese types include both hard and soft cheeses.
Hard & Sharp Cheeses
Italian Parmesan type cheeses are well known for their hard grainy textures, dainty flavors and great versatility. So, make sure you know where to buy Parmesan cheese, as its piquant sharpness will add a fine zest to your any dish.
With its long pungent but pleasant aftertaste, shredded or melted, good aged British Cheddar will be a perfect condiment for your hot dishes and an outstanding protagonist of a cheeseboard.
Mimolette cheese, which was probably made as a French version of Edam cheese from Holland, successfully complements the wide gamut of sharp cheeses. Its traditional shape and orange color resemble a sweet juicy melon. The taste is a sublime combination of fruity, nutty and buttery hues. Sprinkle it over salads, omelets and pastas, or serve it on its own as a sumptuous treat.
Soft & Sharp Cheese
Because of their runny textures and extremely powerful flavors, soft sharp cheeses are unlikely to be found in the lists of ingredients for recipes. They play perfectly as they are when eaten with a spoon and accompanied by slices of crusty bread or crackers.
Known as one of the oldest French washed-rind cheeses, the original Pont-l’eveque goes back to the Middle Ages, when it was made by monks from the milk of their own cows. Its interior is supple and smooth, with some small eyes. The scent is pretty strong, but it is well balanced with the mellow flavor. As a luscious condiment the cheese can be added to pancakes, quiches or fruit purees.
Washed-rind stinky Livarot cheese is nicknamed as The Colonel. It used to be wrapped by stripes of twine or reed to prevent it from losing its shape while ripening. Today these are paper stripes. Its taste is a tangy piquant mixture of grassy and barnyard hints.
With its rind washed in local marc de Bourgogne, Epoisses cheese is manufactured in the French region of Burgundy and manages to combine absolutely different flavors in one dainty bouquet. Its stink is harmoniously complemented with grassy and earthy smack, which gives way to salty and creamy aftertaste.
The French name of Affidelice cheese consists of two parts, which give it a true description: ripe and delightful. With its soft orange rind soaked in Chablis, dense aroma and piquantly creamy taste it runs a rich and full gamut of scents and smacks.