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Cheese Buying Guide

We've become more adventurous cheese buyers than we used to be. Back in the day, it was basically cheddar in our shopping basket, and maybe a small round of camembert. We've branched out a lot, but many of those cheeses will still be unfamiliar to us. What should we look out for?


Packaging is a good place to start. Don't just check the price, but look at anything the cheesemaker might have written that will indicate what sort of flavours you can expect. You'll often see words like "creamy", "tangy", "sharp", or "aged". When written by the person who actually made the cheese, these words will give you very good idea of what to expect.


Like all food, cheese is a matter of individual preference. So, if you like stronger, bolder flavours in food, you're likely to prefer cheeses with a similar flavour profile, such as aged cheddars, Gruyère, spiced and blue cheeses. If you're a lover of milder foods, cheeses like Colby, mozzarella, unaged Brie, fresh goat cheese and Havarti will appeal.


As a rule of thumb, the longer a cheese has aged, the stronger it will taste. As supermarkets want to  reduce stock wastage, many of their cheeses are sold well before they're fully ripe and at their best, particularly Brie, camembert and washed-rind cheese. For the best flavour when buying pre-packaged cheeses, look for ones that are as close as possible to the best-before date.


Finally, as a guide to quality, with cheese it's a case of you get what you pay for. The more you pay, the better it is. There are always exceptions but, generally speaking, this is a sound rule to follow.