Although every cheese is made with the same four basic ingredients (milk, culture, enzymes, and salt), there are so many different varieties of cheese available out there that it baffles our minds!
Cheese is so hard not to fall in love with, whether it’s creamy, crumbly, sweet, salty, or even stinky. This humble dairy product can be enjoyed on its own and is also responsible for creating delicious dishes all over the world.
The most popular cheeses in the US include mozzarella, cheddar, feta, parmesan, American cheeses, and some varieties of blue cheese, and trust us when we tell you that Americans love their cheese!
One of the main distinguishing factors among these delicious cheeses is their texture that makes them soft and creamy or firm and crumbly.
So, what is crumble cheese and which varieties crumble? Crumble cheese has a semi-firm texture that is moist, dense, and firm. It will break into little pieces when squeezed but will not become soft at room temperature. Some of the popular varieties of crumble cheese include feta, asiago, cheddar, and certain types of blue cheese, such as gorgonzola.
Read on to find out more about crumble cheese, how it is different from the other varieties of cheese, and how some of the most popular crumble cheese taste like:
Different Types Of Cheese
With so many different types of cheese out there, how can you differentiate among them? Well, cheese can be classified according to several factors including:
- Type of milk – different types of milk can be used to make different varieties of cheese. Some of the most common types include cow milk, goat milk, buffalo milk, mixed milk, and double crème.
- Aging method – cheese is either sold fresh or aged for a certain time period using mold and bacteria in a temperature-controlled environment. During the aging process, the moisture is evaporated leading to a denser cheese that has a more intense flavor.
- Flavor – cheeses are also sometimes categorized according to their flavor and the amount of sharpness that they have. You will often come across words like mild, medium, strong, intense, nutty, earthy, and creamy.
- Texture – this refers to the firmness of the cheese and whether it is soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, or hard. The main determining factor of the texture is the moisture content in the cheese, which can be affected by several factors including the pressure on the curd and the aging time period.
What Makes Crumble Cheese Crumble?
Crumble cheese is semi-firm, which means it is moist as well as dense and firm. Although it breaks into pieces when it is squeezed, it does not become soft at room temperature.
In warmer environments, you may notice that crumble cheese weeps, but what’s great is that despite that, it can maintain its crumbly texture due to its low moisture content.
It may be a little springy and can slightly bounce back up when pressed, however, an adequate amount of pressure will cause it to break and crumble, especially along its natural fault lines.
Crumble cheese is softer as compared to other cheeses but it will never be soft enough to spread.
Which Varieties Of Cheese Crumble?
Some of the most popular varieties of cheese that crumble include:
Let’s discuss a few of them in detail:
Feta cheese is a fresh cheese that originally comes from Greece but is now widely produced in the US as well. It is traditionally made from sheep or goat milk, although it is now more commonly made using cow milk.
Aged for about 3 months, it is cured in brine and has a crumbly texture and a flavor that is rich, tangy, and slightly salty. It gets firmer as the older it gets, and often also has a sharp flavor at some point.
The type of milk it is made with greatly affects its texture and crumbliness, with goat milk giving it a hard texture and soft flavor, and sheep milk making it rich and buttery.
Its rich taste often takes a while to get used to, with many individuals not finding it very appetizing as soon as they try it.
When it comes to the smell, feta cheese smells like fresh cheese and has an acidic touch to it. If it starts to smell sour, it is time to throw it out since it has gone bad and is not okay for consumption.
Some of the best ways to consume feta cheese are by crumbling it on top of pasta dishes and salads, baked chicken, sandwiches, mixed into dips, and baked on its own with olive oil and herbs and vegetables.
Although you can find crumbled feta cheese in supermarkets, it is better to buy feta in block form for two main reasons: it is more economical and the blocks are typically of a higher quality.
The best way to crumble a block of feta cheese is to cut a slice of the cheese that you wish to crumble, run it under cold water, and use your hands or a fork to break it into tiny pieces for your favorite salads, pasta, and meat dishes.
For a mess-less crumbling process, put the cheese in a plastic bag and crush it using your fingers.
Asiago cheese is a nutty-flavored cheese that originally hails from Italy but is now widely made in the US as well.
Made using cow milk, it is sold in both fresh and aged varieties and can range from semi-firm to hard, depending on how long it has aged.
Fresh asiago, also called Asiago Pressato, is made using whole cow milk and is aged for about one month, which results in a softer and smoother cheese with a milder flavor when compared to its aged variety.
It is firm like a sponge cake and has small, irregular holes throughout. White or pale yellow, it has a slightly sweet and sour flavor coupled with a buttery aroma.
Aged asiago, also called Asiago d’allevo, is aged anywhere from a couple of months to two years. Older asiago loses more moisture, making it harder and crumblier, also causing its sweet flavor to become less pronounced.
There are three types of aged asiago: Mezzano, Vecchio, and Stravecchio. Mezzano is aged for 3-8 months and has a light and sweet vegetal flavor.
Vecchio is slightly bitter with a harder texture and is aged for 9 to 18 months. Stravecchio is aged for 1.5-2 full years, is amber-colored, and has a hard, crumbly texture.
Since fresh asiago has a medium level of firmness, it can be used for slicing, cubing, and melting, and is commonly used for making hot or cold sandwiches or creamy sauces.
Aged asiago, on the other hand, is typically grated, shaved, or crumbled due to its firmer texture, and goes well on top of salads, soups, and pasta.
Cheddar cheese is the second most popular cheese in the United States, right after Mozzarella. It is a hard textured and slightly sharp-tasting cheese that hails from the English village of Cheddar and is originally made using cow milk.
Cheddar cheese is made using a process that is so unique to making this particular type of cheese that cheesemakers have coined a term for it called cheddaring.
The process of cheddaring begins with the basic method of adding cultures and rennet to milk to allow it to acidify and curdle. Once the milk has curdled, it is cut up, pressed together, and formed into slabs.
The slabs are then repeatedly stacked and flipped to further compress the curds and squeeze out excess whey and moisture.
This process is continued until most of the moisture is extracted, leaving a cheese that is drier with a dense and crumbly paste.
Cheddar cheese is categorized into different types based on its texture and sharpness, both of which depend on the duration of the aging process.
Mild varieties of cheddar are aged for 2-3 months, while the extra sharp varieties are left to age for 1-5 years. The medium and sharp varieties fall somewhere in between.
The bottom line is that the longer the cheese is left to mature, the more intense and sharper the flavor becomes, coupled with a texture that is crumbly and crystallized.
Cheddar cheese is used in a variety of dishes such as cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, nachos, pasta dishes, and casseroles.
If you wish to crumble it on top of your salads and pasta, opt for aged cheddar that has a drier and crumblier texture so that it doesn’t turn into mush when you try to squeeze it.
You may even freeze cheddar cheese before crumbling it since the low temperature dries it up and makes it easy to break.
Gorgonzola is one of the oldest types of blue cheese that hails from the northern regions of Italy and is made from cow milk.
Ranging from white to pale yellow, it is instantly recognizable by its distinct blue-green marbling produced by the Penicillium Roqueforti fungus.
Gorgonzola cheese is made by combining whole pasteurized cow milk with cultures, enzymes, rennet, and salt, due to which the milk starts to immediately curdle.
The curds are then cut into small pieces, the whey is drained, and the curds are transformed into round molds that are turned several times and rested overnight before being salted.
The salted cheese wheels are kept in a temperature-controlled environment for a few days and are punctured several times using thin skewers, allowing oxygen to circulate within the cheese.
This is a crucial step since this is what gives Gorgonzola its characteristic blue veins.
Gorgonzola cheese may develop a creamy or crumbly texture and a flavor that ranges from buttery to sharp, depending on how long it has aged.
Sweet or dolce gorgonzola is aged for 2 months and has a creamy, spreadable texture and a sweet, buttery flavor and mild aroma.
Spicy or picante gorgonzola is aged for 3 months or longer and has a crumbly texture and strong flavor with a pungent and spicy aroma.
Often featured on cheese platters, aged gorgonzola can be crumbled onto pasta, risotto, and salads, used as a pizza topping, or melted into a delicious gorgonzola sauce.
The creamy variety, on the other hand, can be enjoyed with crackers and spread on crostini.
Originating in Mexico and made using aged cow milk, cotija cheese is a staple in several Mexican states and is used in many dishes including soups, tacos, and salads.
Aged between 100 days and 12 months, cotija cheese is perfect for crumbling or grating over foods since it doesn’t melt even when heated.
Cotija cheese comes in two main varieties: a younger, fresher variety that is aged for around 100 days and an aged variety that is aged for much longer.
Younger cotija is easier to crumble and is most similar to feta in its taste, color, and texture, although it doesn’t have the sharp tang that feta has. Aged cotija, on the other hand, is easier to grate and takes on a saltier and sharper flavor.
This unique cheese type is one of the best varieties of crumbly cheese since it does not melt under hot temperatures, making it perfect to be crumbled and grated on top of both cold and hot dishes.
It retains its color and shape and can be used as a garnish on salads and other dishes, mixed into burgers and meatballs, and also enjoyed on its own.
Now that we have discussed a few of the most popular crumble cheese and what they taste like, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!
What is the best way to crumble cheese?
Crumbling cheese can be somewhat of a messy process if not done correctly. You can use your fingers or a fork to crumble it into tiny pieces, but we all know how that can lead to a stressful cleaning process.
An easy way to crumble cheese is to break off little pieces, put them inside a plastic bag, and use your fingers to break them further.
This is a mess-free process that requires very little cleanup and is also great for storing the crumbled cheese for later use.
Can you freeze crumble cheese?
Yes, you can freeze crumble cheese, both the store-bought variety and those that you crumbled yourself at home.
The best way is to freeze the individual crumbles on a baking sheet and transfer the frozen crumbles to a freezer-safe container to be placed in the freezer.
What’s the best way to store cheese in the refrigerator?
The best way to store leftover cheese and the length of time you can store it depends on the type of cheese, with harder cheeses generally lasting longer than softer ones.
For hard, aged cheeses like aged gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano, you need to first wrap them in parchment paper and then add a layer of plastic wrap before storing them in the vegetable compartment of the fridge.
Blue cheese like gorgonzola and Roquefort, and semi-hard and hard cheeses like cheddar are simply wrapped in plastic wrap.
Soft and stinky cheeses like goat cheese and camembert are placed in a resealable plastic container, whereas fresh cheeses in water, such as mozzarella and feta, are left in the original packaging with the water changed every few days.