What Makes a Cheese Mild, Medium or Strong?

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Hard cheese comes in a range of different strengths.
Hard cheese comes in a range of different strengths. (Image: Cheese. Cheddar , cream , and feta cheese on a plate image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

Packets of hard and semi-hard cheese such as cheddar come in different strengths. Some supermarkets use a 1 to 5 strength grading system, but most labels describe hard cheese as mild, medium or strong.

The Facts

The terms mild, medium or strong refer to the flavor strength of the cheese. Flavor strength is determined by the length of time a cheese matures. The longer a cheese matures, the stronger its flavor.

Strong cheese matures for longer than mild cheese.
Strong cheese matures for longer than mild cheese. (Image: Yellow cheese image by Plamen Yanev from Fotolia.com)

Types of Cheese

Mild cheese typically matures for up to three months. Strong cheese, on the other hand, needs at least a year to reach its full flavor. Some extra-strong cheeses mature for at least two years before they are ready to eat.

Strong cheese has more flavor than mild cheese.
Strong cheese has more flavor than mild cheese. (Image: cheese plate image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com)

Considerations

Manufacturers add salt to cheese to help the curds mature and to enhance flavor. Strong cheese contains more salt than mild cheese because it matures for a much longer period. Too much salt is unhealthy, so consumers should look at the list of ingredients to see how much salt each cheese contains.

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