Our definitive guide to cheese

By Marie-Antoinette Issa |

IQS: Guide to cheese

Cheese. With the perfect balance of nutrition and flavour we’ve rarely met one we didn’t love. And in case you hadn’t noticed, it crops up in our recipes a lot!

Cheese has had a bad rap in the past, due to its high content of saturated fat. But as more recent studies now show that saturated fat is not the devil it’s been made out to be, cheese is back in a big way.

Why we’re fans of full-fat cheese.

Unlike sugar, unprocessed fats (like the kinds in whole-milk cheeses) fill you up and keep you satiated for longer.

“Studies have also suggested that full-fat dairy can decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers due to the anti-inflammatory effects of ,” says Keys2words in-house dietician Natalie Bourke.

Prefer haloumi over Cheddar, or ricotta rather than Brie?

Most full-fat cheeses actually have a similar nutritional content, so as long as you’re eating it in moderation, you can tuck into your favourite cheese. Do try to look for varieties made from grass-fed hormone-free cow and sheep milk whenever possible, though.

“Whether it’s soft or hard cheese, if it’s made from the milk of healthy animals, it’s probably going to be healthier for humans too!” Natalie says.

The soft-ripened cheeses.

A soft-ripened cheese has a white rind on the outside, which occurs when beneficial mould is added to the milk or sprayed onto the cheese during the ageing process.

Soft-ripened cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, are delicious when added to grilled toasties. A note if you’re expecting though, many sources recommend that you , due to the risk of listeria. The same applies to some of the blues and the chevre, below.

IQS: guide to cheese

The stretched curd (or pasta filata) cheeses.

This family of cheeses have a soft, textured centre and a stringy stretch.

History has it that mozzarella was invented when cheese curd accidentally fell into a bucket of warm water, creating a smooth pliable cheese. Today, mozzarella and similar-style cheeses like bocconcini and haloumi are still kneaded, spun and shaped in water during the production process to create a stringy cheese that stretches when melted.

We love haloumi on pretty much everything. Try this super simple but crowd-pleasing Sesame Crusted Haloumi and Strawberry Salad as a start.

The soft fresh cheeses.

This category has a high moisture content, and is typically set with the addition of lactic acid cultures. Examples include cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, mascarpone and ricotta.

Keys2words junior recipe developer Hannah Fong suggests adding soft fresh cheeses to dishes where you need some extra creaminess.

“Ricotta works beautifully in a spinach pie and cream cheese makes a scrumptious icing for baked goods, like these carrot cupcakes.”


The semi-hard to hard cheeses.

Semi-hard cheeses, like Cheddar, Colby, Edam and Gouda, are classified based on their firmness. They have a lower moisture content than softer cheeses.

Hard cheeses, like Parmesan, are well-aged, easily grated and primarily used in cooking.

“These cheeses – specifically Gouda and Edam – also have the highest levels of vitamin K2, a nutrient which plays a significant role in optimising heart and brain health,” Natalie says.

Most semi-hard and hard cheeses add a distinctive flavour when incorporated into dishes. Try the Chive, Kale + Parmesan Pancakes with Poachies from the for a savoury twist on the Sunday brunch favourite.

The blue cheeses.

The blue streaks in these cheeses come from , that runs throughout the cheese’s interior.

Are you a blue cheese lover? Try adding Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Stilton to pizzas or tossed through a fancy salad or pasta for a decadent meal.

The holey cheeses.

Also known as eye or Swiss-style, this category of cheese is recognisable by the holes in its body. Try Jarlsberg or Emmental if you like your cheese with a sweet, nutty flavour.

IQS: Guide to cheese

Goat’s cheeses.

If you have trouble digesting dairy, goat’s cheese can be a better option. “The proteins found in goat’s milk cheese can be easier on the stomach for a lot of people,” Natalie says.

Chevre is among the most popular for it’s mild, tangy flavour. Try it in this Beetroot Terrine, which is as tasty as it is beautiful.

What’s your favourite cheese and how do you like to eat it?

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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