Cheese Traits






This popular cheese originated in Mexico, where it is used for making antojitos (appetizers) and enchiladas. "Queso Anejo" translates literally in Spanish to "aged cheese." Anejos are full-flavored, firm cheeses often rolled in paprika. They are used both as an ingredient and a snack. The flavor is not as strong as Cotija and the texture is softer and less crumbly. Traditionally, Anejo Enchilado was made from skimmed goat’s milk or skimmed cow’s milk and packed in burlap bags.

Anejo Enchilado

A Mexican/Hispanic style cheese that is firm and salty much like Cotija. Anejo Enchilado has one distinct difference – it is rolled in paprika or chili powder as a final production step giving it added flavor. It goes well atop of salad or shredded across soup.
Asaderos are rich melting cheeses developed in Mexico especially for cooking. "Asadero" is Spanish for "baking." These cottage industry cheeses come in several variations. "Quesadilla," a relatively mild version of Asadero, originated in Northern Sinaloa, Mexico. In Wisconsin, Asadero is produced by combining the skill of our cheesemakers with the imported techniques of traditional Hispanic cheesemaking.


Also known as Oaxaca. Nice, mild, fresh Mexican-style cheese. As it is a fresh cheese, it has a light flavor and is quite creamy when melted. This cheese is usually shaped into a log or loaf form and will slice fairly well.
Asiago derives its name from a small town in northern Italy. In Italy, Asiago usually means Asiago Fresco (fresh), which has a mild flavor and semi-hard texture. In Wisconsin, cheesemakers age Asiago to develop sharper flavors. It resembles a cross between sharp white Cheddar and Parmesan.


Flavor changes from mild when young to sharp, buttery and nutty when aged. Flavor similar to a blend of aged Cheddar and Parmesan. Texture changes from elastic and firm to hard and granular with age. Serve as a table cheese; shred or grate into cooked dishes.
In Wisconsin, cheesemakers traditionally produce Baby Swiss from whole milk, unlike traditional Swiss, which they make from partially skimmed milk. Whole milk gives Baby Swiss a creamier texture and more buttery flavor, which makes it ideal for melting. Sweet Swiss, a rind cheese produced in Wisconsin, is a cross between Baby Swiss and Jarlsberg®, a Norwegian Swiss.

Baby Swiss

Typically made with whole milk. Silky, creamy texture with small eyes. Mild, buttery, slightly sweet flavor. Slices and melts well. Available plain and smoked.
No record exists of the first Blue cheese. Some historians suggest that mold from the Penicillium family was accidentally transferred from bread to a nearby piece of cheese. Because the development of blue mold occurred randomly, Blue cheeses were highly prized. Today, cheesemakers add appropriate mold cultures to develop blue veins in the cheese. Wisconsin cheesemakers make a variety of award-winning Blue cheeses ranging from crumbly to creamy.


Piquant, full, earthy flavor; intensity of flavor varies among brands. Firm, crumbly texture with blue mold in veins and pockets. Crumble in vegetable, fruit and pasta salads, over grilled meat; blend for spreads, dressings, dips.
Brick is a Wisconsin original, first made by John Jossi around 1877. Some Brick cheeses resemble Germany’s surface-ripened Beer Cheese or Beer Käse. Brick was named for its shape and because cheesemakers originally used bricks to press the moisture from the cheese. Wisconsin leads the nation in the production of Brick and surface-ripened Brick. The bacteria that cheesemakers apply to surface-ripened cheeses, known as a smear, develops the full, earthy flavor.


A Wisconsin original. Flavor changes from mild and sweet, with a touch of nuttiness when young to pungent and tangy when aged. Available surface-ripened. Smooth, open texture. Slice for sandwiches; shred for casseroles.
Wisconsin has become an important source of Brie for American consumers. Many French cheese producers have chosen to make this cheese in Wisconsin because the composition of milk closely resembles that of the French regions. The bloomy rind on Brie results from Penicillium Candidum, a white mold applied to the surface. The mold produces enzymes which ripen the cheese from the outside in. Ripening occurs in just a matter of weeks.


This classic French cheese is now made in Wisconsin. Rich, earthy mushroom flavor changes from mild when young to pungent with age. Available plain and with flavors. Soft, creamy interior with snowy white, edible rind. Slice on sandwiches; spread on bread; wrap and bake in pastry. Remove rind and stir into soups, sauces.
Butterkäse originated in Germany and is made throughout Germany and Austria. Its name literally means "butter cheese." Although it contains no butter, it has a butter-like texture. It is also called Dämenkäse or "ladies cheese" because it is delicately flavored, odorless and quite complementary to most foods. Butterkäse, produced in Wisconsin in the Alpine tradition, is readily available throughout the United States.


A very mild cheese that fits in the semi-soft texture category. This cheese is very creamy and mild in flavor. If you are looking for a cheese to melt over vegetables, this just might be your cheese as Butterkäse melts very nicely and will not overpower the vegetables.
Wisconsin has become an important source of Camembert for American consumers. Many French cheese producers have chosen to make this cheese in Wisconsin because the composition of milk closely resembles that of the French regions. The bloomy rind on Camembert results from Penicillium Candidum, a white mold applied to the surface. The mold produces enzymes which ripen the cheese from the outside in. Ripening occurs in just a matter of weeks.


Soft, creamy interior with snowy white, edible rind. Rich, earthy mushroom flavor that gets more pungent with age. Slice on sandwiches; spread on bread; wrap and bake in pastry. Remove rind and stir into soups, sauces.
Prior to 1850, nearly all the cheese produced in the United States was Cheddar. Cheddar production in Wisconsin began in the mid 1800's and by 1880, more Cheddar was produced in Wisconsin than any other cheese variety. Today it accounts for a large percentage of the cheese made in the state, which makes Wisconsin the leader in U.S. Cheddar production.


Rich, nutty flavor becomes increasingly sharp with age. Smooth, firm texture becomes more granular and crumbly with age. Usually golden; also available white. Slice for sandwiches, snacks; shred into casseroles, soups, sauces.
Cheesemakers first produced Colby, a close relative of Cheddar, in the central Wisconsin town of Colby in 1885. Similar in flavor to Cheddar, Colby is softer and has a more open texture and higher moisture content. Cheesemakers spray the curds with cold water and stir them while they are still in the vat to prevent the curds from knitting together. This procedure gives Colby a more elastic texture than Cheddar.


First produced in Colby, Wisconsin in 1885. Mild flavor similar to mild Cheddar. Firm, open texture with tiny holes. Slice for sandwiches; shred into casseroles; cube for snacks.
A Wisconsin tavern owner first made Cold Pack to provide his customers with a spreadable cheese for snacking. Since taverns were called clubs and owners packed the cheese in crocks, this Wisconsin original became known as Club or Crock cheese.

Cold Pack

A Wisconsin original. Natural cheese blended without the aid of heat. Smooth, spreadable texture. Spread on crackers and vegetables; melt into sauces.
Hard-grating Cotija is the Parmesan of Mexico. It is widely used as an ingredient, a seasoning and a garnish. Cotija rates as one of Mexico’s most recognized cheeses. Because of the popularity of Mexican foods throughout the United States, skilled Wisconsin cheesemakers have been producing this ethnic cheese in America’s Dairyland for many years.


A firm, crumbly cheese with Mexican/Hispanic heritage. Cotija has similar uses as Feta. Crumble this cheese on top of your salad. It tends to be salty in nature and hence does not melt when heated. This cheese is also called Queso Anejo.
Remember Little Miss Muffet and her curds and whey? She was eating an early version of Cottage Cheese. This fresh cheese originated in Middle Europe where housewives made only enough for each family’s consumption. Today, Cottage Cheese is popular with consumers and is produced on a large scale in the United States. Cottage Cheese from Wisconsin comes in a variety of milkfat percentages as well as dry curd style.

Cottage Cheese

This fresh cheese originated in middle Europe from housewives making it in the home. Today Cottage Cheese comes in a variety of curd sizes and milk fat. The flavor will remind you of fresh milk with slight acidity, but nice and creamy. It pairs well with fresh fruit, vegetables or breads. Makes a good base for low calorie salad dressings.
Cream Cheese, an American original, became popular around 1880 when factories spread from the Northeast to the rest of the country. At that time, production underwent a revolutionary change with the invention of the separator, which made it possible to separate the whey immediately from the hot solids. This process allowed cheesemakers to pack the curd hot, and the shelf life for the finished cheese doubled.

Cream Cheese

An American original, Cream Cheese has a rich, nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Of French origin, Neufchatel is lower in fat. Available plain and with sweet or savory flavors. Creamy texture. Blend for dips, spreads, fillings or frostings.
Edam and Gouda originated in Holland over 800 years ago. The name "Edam" comes from a town of the same name in southern Holland. The village of Gouda shares the same valley. Originally, cheesemakers shaped Edam into balls to roll down the gangplanks into ships for export. Since Edam has a firmer texture than Gouda, it maintained its round shape.


Edam, made with part-skim milk, has a light, buttery, nutty flavor and smooth, firm texture. Slice for sandwiches; shred in baked dishes; dice in salads and vegetable dishes.
Farmers cheese originated on farms throughout the world as a way to use milk left after skimming the cream for butter. Two main styles evolved – a fresh cheese similar to Cottage Cheese and a semi-soft version cured for a short time. Wisconsin cheesemakers produce the latter variety, firm enough for cubing or shredding. No standards of identity exist for Farmers cheese, which means cheeses can vary greatly from one cheesemaker to another.


Style (soft-fresh to semi-soft) varies worldwide. Wisconsin Farmers cheese is similar to Havarti, but typically lower in fat. Buttery, slightly acidic flavor. Smooth, supple texture. Shred in potato dishes and casseroles; slice for sandwiches; cube for snacks.
Feta was first made in Greece from sheep’s or goat’s milk. In Wisconsin, producers make Feta from cow’s milk. Cheesemakers refer to Feta as "pickled" because, after formation, it is packed in brine (salt and water). The brine preserves the cheese for approximately six months longer than most fresh cheeses.


Fresh cheese packed in brine and referred to as “pickled”. Crumbly, firm texture. Tart, salty flavor. Crumble on salads or use in casseroles or stuffings.
Fontina originated in Italy in 1477 in the mountainous Val d’Aosta region near the Swiss border. It was named Fontina d’Aosta for Mont Fontin and the nearby village of Fontinaz. Fontina is considered to be one of the most versatile cheeses in the world because it is excellent as both a table cheese and a cooking cheese. Fontina has been copied often; the most notable versions are the Italian-style, Swedish-style and Danish-style. Today, Wisconsin cheesemakers produce all three varieties.


Danish-style: slightly tart, nutty, mild earthy flavor; mellow to sharp depending on age. Red wax, rounded corners.

Swedish-style: slightly tart, nutty, mild earthy flavor; mellow to sharp depending on age. Red wax, straight corners.

Italian-style: mild, earthy, buttery flavor. Smooth, supple texture with tiny holes. Brown coating. Slice for sandwiches, snacks; shred for baked, cooked dishes.

Called Mozzarella Fresca in Italy where it originated, Fresh Mozzarella was first made with milk from the water buffalo. This is a Pasta Filata cheese; the curds are kneaded, then stretched and formed into balls or logs. However, this cheese is not cured in brine or aged like the low-moisture Mozzarella we are most familiar with. Instead, it is eaten fresh, only a few days old. To keep this cheese fresh, the balls are submerged in water.




Delicate, milky flavor. Soft, slightly elastic texture. Submerged in water to keep fresh. Slice for salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pizza.

Wisconsin Italian-style Gorgonzola resembles the dolce latte or sweet milk Gorgonzolas of Italy that are especially creamy. Gorgonzola gets its name from the town located in the Po Valley near Milan where it has been made since A.D. 879. Firm Gorgonzola produced in Wisconsin has less moisture and is more crumbly. Gorgonzola is typically produced in flatter wheels than the traditional Blue. Italian-style Gorgonzola ripens to yield a soft, creamy texture and its flavor is more earthy than sharp.


American Style: Full, earthy, piquant flavor. Crumbly texture. Use on salads or hamburger. Great in sauces and dressings.

Italian Style: Slightly piquant, full, earthy flavor. Creamy, soft interior with greenish blue veins and rusty brown inedible rind. Heat and toss with hot pasta; spread on bread or toast; stir into risotto.
Gouda and Edam originated in Holland over 800 years ago. The name "Gouda" comes from a village in southern Holland. The town of Edam shares the same valley. In the early days of Dutch cheesemaking, cheesemakers wrapped Gouda for export in red cloth to identify the variety. Today, Wisconsin producers carry on the tradition by covering the cheese with red wax or cellophane.


Gouda, made with whole milk, has a rich, buttery, slightly sweet flavor and smooth, creamy texture. Slice for sandwiches; shred in baked dishes; dice in salads and vegetable dishes.
Since the 11th century, cheesemakers in the Alpine area between Switzerland and France have produced Gruyere. The pride and joy of the region, this cheese received its name from the town of Gruyeres in the Swiss canton of Fribourg. Today, Wisconsin cheesemakers produce award-winning, hand-crafted Gruyere using classic production techniques and hand-crafted copper vats. The cheese is aged in specially-designed curing rooms to attain the peak of perfection.


Nutty, rich, full-bodied flavor. Firm texture with a few tiny eyes. Surface-ripened with inedible brown rind. Shred for fondue, baked dishes, melting on onion soup.
Havarti, a milder version of German Tilsit, was first made popular in Denmark. Many cheesemakers in Wisconsin produce a product similar to its Danish cousin. The Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a special Wisconsin-style Havarti® that is firmer in texture and more buttery in flavor than other types.


Buttery, slightly acidic flavor. Available plain and with flavors. Smooth, supple texture with tiny holes. Slice for sandwiches; shred in egg dishes; dice on salads.
Italian Sharp, a relative of Fontina, is styled after table cheeses from Italy. It reminds some of an Aged Asiago. A semi-hard cheese aged for at least 60 days, it is equally at home as a table cheese or cooking cheese. Today, several Wisconsin cheesemakers produce this variety under various brand names.

Italian Sharp

Firm table cheese, similar in look and taste to a sharp Cheddar. Can be enjoyed with earthy breads or grated over pasta for a nice robust flavor.
Kasseri originated in Greece and was made of sheep’s milk and sometimes goat’s milk. In Wisconsin, cheesemakers make a version of Kasseri that is a blend of 75% cow’s milk and 25% sheep’s milk. They also make cow’s milk versions that use cultures to make the flavor much like that of traditional sheep’s milk Kasseri.


Mild, piquant, slightly tart flavor. Firm, slightly crumbly texture. Cube this Greek-style cheese for cheese trays; grate or shred in cooked and baked dishes.
Limburger, first introduced in Belgium, is the most famous of all Belgian cheeses. It was made in the Liege region and sold in Limburg. The Germans began making Limburger and later naturalized it, making themselves the sole producers in Europe. This assertive cheese complemented their taste for highly-flavored game and meats. Today, a single cheese plant in Monroe, Wisconsin, produces all the surface-ripened Limburger made in the United States.


A semi-soft cheese with origins from Belgium. Only one factory in the USA, located in Monroe, Wisconsin, produces Limburger domestically. Limburger is a pungent smelling, surface-ripened cheese that pairs well with hearty rye breads and even a slice of onion.
Mascarpone originated in the Lombardy region of Italy and was made only during the fall and winter months. It was used strictly as a dessert cheese. In Wisconsin, Mascarpone is available year-round and has many applications. It contains 70 percent milkfat, which makes it a triple crème. Wisconsin Mascarpone consistently wins top honors in national competitions.


Rich, buttery, slightly sweet flavor. Smooth, thick, creamy texture. Serve as is or combine with other ingredients to make fillings, toppings, dips, spreads. Stir into soups, sauces.
A Scotsman named David Jacks first produced Monterey Jack in Monterey, California in the 1890’s. This popular cheese retains its place name even when made elsewhere.

Monterey Jack

Delicate, buttery, slightly tart flavor. Available plain and with flavors. Creamy, open texture. Slice for sandwiches; shred in casseroles, soups, Mexican-style dishes.
Originally, Italians ate Mozzarella as a soft fresh cheese. Later, cheesemakers made it with lower moisture to give it a longer shelf life. After World War II, GIs returned home with a taste for a delicious new food they had discovered in Italy – pizza. Today, thanks in large part to these soldiers, Mozzarella rates second only to Cheddar in popularity in the United States. Wisconsin cheesemakers produce close to 650 million pounds of this Pasta Filata cheese each year.


Delicate, milky flavor. Smooth, plastic texture. Whole milk Mozzarella melts and flows when heated. Part-skim Mozzarella browns faster. String similar, but formed into strips for snacking.
Historians believe that Muenster originated in Alsace, France. Others give the honor to its neighbor, Germany. In Wisconsin, Muenster was among the first semi-soft cheeses European immigrants made in the late 1800’s, and Americans quickly developed a taste for it. Wisconsin Muenster tastes milder, and the firmer texture helped it gain popularity as a slicing cheese for sandwiches.


Mild when young, mellows with age. Traditionally a washed-rind cheese, in the U.S., the rind may or may not be washed. Ideal for table, slicing, and melting. Shred over hot vegetables or steamed rice.
Cream Cheese, an American original, became popular around 1880 when factories spread from the Northeast to the rest of the country. At that time, production underwent a revolutionary change with the invention of the separator, which made it possible to separate the whey immediately from the hot solids. This process allowed cheesemakers to pack the curd hot, and the shelf life for the finished cheese doubled.


Soft and creamy with a mild flavor. Of French origins, it is similar to Cream Cheese, but with lower fat content. It can be used for dips, spreads, fillings, or frostings.
Known as the king of Italian cheeses, Parmesan originated in the Reggio and Parma regions of Italy. It tastes sweet, buttery and nutty compared to the sharper and more piquant flavor of Romano. Parmesan has become very popular in the United States and Wisconsin leads in the production of award-winning Parmesan.


Buttery, sweet, nutty flavor intensifies with age. Granular texture. Made from part-skim milk. Aged over 10 months. Serve as a table cheese; shave over salads; grate in cooked dishes, casseroles, pizza; use, freshly grated, to season food.
Process cheeses account for a huge share of cheese sales and are not new to the market. Process cheeses from Wisconsin are a smooth blend of assorted natural cheeses that have been blended together and pasteurized to the point where further ripening stops - which results in Process cheese enjoying a longer shelf life than most cheeses. Wisconsin, the leading state in total cheese production, is also the top producer of Process cheese.

Pastuerized Process Cheese Spread

Natural cheese blended with aid of heat. Semi-soft, smooth texture. Slice for sandwiches; shred in baked dishes.
This cheese originated in Sicily and reflects the Sicilian love of hearty, robust flavors. Pepato means "pepper" and Sicilians started the tradition of adding black peppercorns to Romano. Wisconsin Pepato is available with Romano cheese or a Romano/Asiago cheese blend. It contains less salt than the imported, so more of the rich, complex flavor of the cheese comes through. Because the cheese moistens and mellows the peppercorns, the flavor is not as intense as some expect.


Peppery, robust flavor similar to Romano, but studded with whole peppercorns. Grate over soups, salads or pasta. Use as a spice in baked dishes.
Producers use more and different cultures to make Provolone than for Mozzarella. These additional cultures result in fuller flavors and allow Provolone to age well. In earlier times, Italian cheesemakers heated curing rooms with wood fires, which imparted a slightly smoky flavor to the cheese. Today, Wisconsin cheesemakers produce smoked and unsmoked Provolone.


Flavor changes from slightly piquant when young to sharp when aged. Firm texture becomes more granular with age. Plain or smoked. Slice for sandwiches; shred for pizza, fillings; dice on salads.
Queso Blanco means "white cheese." Similar cheeses from this family, such as Panela, are made throughout Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Wisconsin cheesemakers make Queso Blanco with the same stringent quality standards of all Wisconsin cheeses.

Queso Blanco

Popular Mexican cheese. Fresh, crumbly, slightly salty. Works well tossed in salads or as a fried snack. Browns, but doesn’t melt when heated.
Queso Quesadilla is a rich melting cheese which originated in Sinaloa in Northern Mexico. It made tortilla turnovers famous and gave them their name, "quesadillas." This versatile cheese can be used in many traditional Mexican-style dishes and in place of any melting cheese. It is a part of a major group of Hispanic melting cheeses.

Queso Quesadilla

Queso Quesadilla has a smooth, creamy texture that is ideal for melting. Use it to make extra cheesy Quesadillas, as a creamy filling for enchiladas or to top huevos rancheros for a tasty Mexican breakfast dish.
Italian cheesemakers originally produced Ricotta from the whey that remained after making Mozzarella and Provolone. They added lactic acid or vinegar to the whey and reheated it almost to boiling. Ricotta literally means recooked. This process caused the curds to precipitate and rise to the surface, where they were skimmed off and drained.


Mild flavor with a hint of sweetness. Available in non-fat to whole milk variations. Wonderful for use in casseroles and stuffings.
Wisconsin cheesemakers make Romano with cow’s milk and produce a cheese that, like its Italian counterpart, has slightly more fat and tastes sharper and more assertive than Parmesan. When Italian cheesemakers use sheep’s milk, they call it Pecorino (sheep) Romano.


Sharp, tangy, assertive flavor. Made with part-skim cow’s milk. Grate onto pasta and soups, shred into salads and stuffings.
American cheesemakers, not Swiss, modernized Swiss production. About fifty years ago, the only way to protect Swiss wheels as they ripened was to allow a hard rind to form. The advent of plastic packaging, which keeps moisture in but allows carbon dioxide to escape, made it possible to produce rindless Swiss cheese in blocks. Rindless blocks were developed for better yield in foodservice; retailers appreciate the higher yield and ease of cutting.


Full-flavored, buttery, nutty. Made with part skim milk; aged at least 60 days. Ideal for table, or on sandwiches and casseroles sliced and melted.