These cheeses are great for snacking or desserts, and a few are heat-tolerant enough to be good cooking cheeses. Their flavor can vary dramatically, but they blend well with other cheeses, since they tend to be young and mild. You'll find them typically in your four cheese sauces and pizzas. These cheeses contain a high percentage of moisture, ranging between 62% and 67%.
* Denotes cheeses that we do not carry but their substitutions are available.
Asadero This stringy Mexican cheese melts nicely, so it's great on quesadillas. Substitutes: mozzarella cheese OR jack cheese OR Muenster OR Provolone
Beaumont This French cow's milk cheese has a mild, nutty flavor. Substitutes: Muenster OR Reblochon OR Havarti OR Port du Salut
Bierkäse or Beer cheese This is a soft, stinky cheese. German like to put it on rye bread along with some sliced onion, and have it with beer. It's too overpowering to serve with wine. Substitutes: Limburger OR Havarti (This has a similar texture, but it's much milder)
Bel Paese This is a mild, semi-soft Italian cheese that's good with apples, pears, and fruity red wines. It's also shredded and used to make pizza, risotto, and pasta dishes. Substitutes: Fontina OR Taleggio OR Gouda OR Havarti OR Samsoe OR jack OR Muenster OR mozzarella
Brick This is a pungent American washed-rind cheese. Substitutes: Lagerkaese OR Havarti OR Cheddar OR Limburger (more pungent)
* Caciocavallo This Italian cheese is similar to provolone. Substitutes: Provolone (not as moist, but similar) OR Kashkaval OR Scarmorza OR Kasseri OR mozzarella
Casero This is a mild white Mexican cheese. Substitutes: muenster OR jack
Chaubier This mild French cheese is made with a blend of cow and goat milk.
Corsu This sheep's milk cheese comes from Corsica.
Esrom or Danish salut This Danish cheese is semi-soft and only slightly pungent. It's a great melting cheese and a popular ingredient in casseroles. Substitutes: Havarti OR Saint Paulin
Gouda This Dutch cheese has a mild, nutty flavor. Varieties include smoked Gouda, the diminutive baby Gouda, and Goudas flavored with garlic and spices. Goudas are also classed by age. A young Gouda is mild, an aged Gouda = medium Gouda = mature Gouda is more assertive, and an old Gouda = very aged Gouda is downright pungent. Substitutes: Edam (similar, but with a lower milkfat content) OR Samsoe OR Bel Paese OR jack OR Muenster
Haloumi This salty, crumbly cheese from Cyprus stands up well to heat and can even be fried or grilled. Look for it in Middle Eastern markets. Substitutes: feta (similar flavor) OR mozzarella (similar texture)
Havarti This mild Danish cheese is perfect for slicing into sandwiches. It's often flavored with spices and chilies. Substitutes: Tilsit OR jack cheese OR Esrom (more pungent) OR Gouda OR Mahon
Jack This California semi-soft cheese resembles Muenster. It has a mild, nondescript flavor, but it's good cheese to slice into sandwiches or melt into casseroles. It also goes by California jack, Monterey jack, Sonoma jack, and Mexican jack, depending on where it was produced. Efforts to boost the flavor have produced Pepper Jack = Jalapeno Jack. Don't confuse this with aged jack, which is a grating cheese. Substitutes: Muenster OR Gouda OR Bel Paese
* Lagerkaese Substitutes: Brick OR Limburger (softer, stronger flavor)
* Laguiole This is a mild French semi-soft cheese. Substitutes: jack cheese
Lappi This is a mild semi-soft cheese from the Lapland region of Finland. It's a good melter and works well in fondues. Substitutes: Emmenthal (very similar) OR Swiss
Limburger This is a very stinky and salty German washed rind cheese. It's too strong to serve with most wines, so it's often served with beer. Use within a few days after purchasing. For best flavor, serve at room temperature. Substitutes: Schloss (milder) OR Maroilles OR Livarot OR Harz OR Mainz OR Hand Complements: beer OR onions OR pumpernickel bread
Morbier This creamy and mild cheese has a dark stripe running up the middle, a reference to earlier times when a layer of ash was added to the cheese to protect it from insects. Morbier has a rich, earthy flavor. It's a good melting cheese, but you might want to cook with a cheaper cheese like Lappi or Havarti. Substitutes: Fontina OR Havarti OR Esrom
Mozzarella This is one of the few cheeses that doesn't turn rubbery or ooze oil if cooked too long or too hot, so it's a key ingredient in pizzas and casseroles. It's also stretchy--the long white strings that you often see draped over the sides of pizza boxes are usually mozzarella.
There are two kinds. Low moisture mozzarella is firmer and the best choice for pizza. High moisture mozzarella = fresh mozzarella is more delicate; it's often drizzled with olive oil and serve uncooked as an appetizer. It works in pizza, too, but you should first put slices of it into a colander to drain for about an hour, and put them on the pizza only during the last minute of cooking.
High moisture mozzarella is often packaged in tubs or bags filled with water--this keeps it soft but leeches out some of the flavor. Look for mozzarella di bufalo which is more interesting than cow's milk mozzarella. Bocconcini are small balls of high moisture mozzarella. High moisture mozzarellas are much more perishable than their low-moisture counterparts, so use them within a few days of purchase. Substitutes: Scarmorza OR Cacciocavallo OR string cheese (very similar, but extruded rather than molded)
Muenster When produced in Europe, Muenster is a mild-mannered member of the normally stinky washed-rind cheese family, though it becomes more pungent as it ages. It's delicious with dark breads and beer or Gewurztraminer wine. American muensters are much milder. Substitutes: jack OR brick OR Port du Salut OR Bel Paese
Oka This Canadian semi-soft cheese has a mild, nutty flavor and melts nicely. Substitutes: Raclette OR Emmenthal OR Port Salut
* Ossau-Iraty This little-known Basque cheese is made from raw sheep's milk, and it's creamy, nutty, and mellow
Pasta filata These cheeses are stretched and pulled like taffy before being molded, which gives them a springy, elastic consistency. Unlike many cheeses, they stand up well to cooking. This category includes mozzarella, Provolone, Scamorza, string cheese, and Caciocavallo.
Port Salut Though Port Salut has a mild French semi-soft cheese., it sometimes has a strong smell because it is a mature cheese. The smell increases the longer the cheese is kept — this however does not affect its flavour. It can be refrigerated and is best eaten within two weeks of opening. Don't confuse with Danish Port Salut, which is also called Esrom cheese. Substitutes: Saint Paulin OR Esrom OR Havarti OR jack OR Muenster OR brick OR Bel Paese
Provolone This Italian cheese is like mozzarella, only firmer and more flavorful. It's often used in sandwiches and on on pizza. Substitutes: Caciocavallo (lower in fat) OR Scamorza OR mozzarella OR kasseri OR smoked tofu
Queso blanco Substitutes: mozzarella OR Muenster
Saint Paulin This French semi-soft cheese is creamy and mild. Substitutes: Esrom OR Havarti
* Samsoe This versatile Danish semi-soft cheese is mild and nutty. Substitutes: Emmental OR Tybo OR Gouda OR Bel Paese
Scamorza This cheese is similar to mozzarella, only smaller and firmer. It's often smoked. Substitutes: mozzarella OR Cacciocavallo OR Provolone
String cheese Substitutes: mozzarella (molded rather than extruded, but otherwise very similar)
Taleggio This creamy Italian cheese is one of the better stinky cheeses--not too tame, not too wild. It's great on crackers or bread, but it's also a good melting cheese and works well in casseroles and even on pizza. The rind is edible, but not to everyone's liking. Substitutes: Stracchino (ripened version of taleggio) OR Bel Paese OR fontina
Tilsit This is a good sandwich cheese. Substitutes: Havarti (not as flavorful) OR jack cheese OR Esrom (more pungent) OR Gouda OR Mahon
Tomme Crayeuse This soft French cheese is rich and buttery. Don't eat the rind. Substitutes: Tomme de Savoie OR Saint Nectaire OR Muenster
Tomme de Savoie This is a mild and pleasant French cheese that's semi-soft when young, firmer when aged. Substitutes: Tomme Crayeuse OR Saint Nectaire OR Muenster
* Urgelia This creamy Spanish cheese is a member of the washed rind (a.k.a. stinky) cheese family, but it's mild and subtle. Substitutes: Taleggio
* Vacherin This is a cheese-lover's cheese, with a complex nutty flavor. It's a good melting cheese that's often used to make fondues. Try heating it a bit and serving it with crusty French bread. Substitutes: Fontina OR Appenzell OR Emmenthal