The great variety of foods in the grocery store is a double-edged sword. On one side, it’s great that we have almost anything we need right at our fingertips—specific flavors and ingredients to complete any recipe or satisfy any craving. On the flip side, having too many choices can become overwhelming. Generic or name brand, non-fat or low-fat, crispy or crunchy, organic or not, spicy or mild -- the list of options goes on and on.
Cheese is just one of the foods that is available in many shapes, sizes, flavors and prices. There are different terms for different kinds of cheeses, which can be confusing unless you know exactly what they mean. We’re here to shed light on some of the most common cheese varieties, so there’s no more guessing when you’re shivering in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.
Natural Cheese: Natural cheeses are cheese made from milk and often have salt, enzymes and flavorings added as ingredients. Natural cheese may or may not be aged and it tends to be packaged in blocks, cubes, slices and even shredded varieties.
Pasteurized Processed Cheese: Processed cheese is made by heating one or more natural cheeses together. “American Cheese” singles are one of the most recognizable types of pasteurized processed cheese.
Pasteurized Process Cheese Food: Processed cheese foods are a blend of one or more natural cheeses along with other dairy products like cream, milk or whey. To be considered a cheese food, more than half (51%) of the product must be cheese.
Processed Cheese Product: Cheese products have all the same ingredients as cheese (milk, salt, cultures and natural enzymes) -- they just don’t undergo the traditional cheese-making process.
Pasteurized Processed Cheese Spread: The only difference between cheese spreads and processed cheese foods is that an edible stabilizer and moisture are added so it can spread smoothly at room temperature.
There are other cheese products in the dairy aisle like “sandwich slices,” but they don’t really taste like cheese.
These terms can help you understand what you’re actually buying and to ensure you’re actually consuming dairy. Are there any other varieties of cheese have you’ve come across in the dairy aisle?