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Arranging a tray of cheese and crackers is just about the easiest way to entertain. It's also fun for guests to sample new cheeses.

These terms will help you purchase cheeses that satisfy a broad range of tastes.

AGED: Cheeses that have been cured six months or more. The aging process develops a fuller, sharper flavor.

BLUE-VEINED: Cheeses that develop blue or green streaks of harmless, flavor producing mold throughout the interior. Generally, veining gives cheese an assertive and piquant flavor.

CHEVRES: Originally, this term referred to cheese made from French goat's milk, but it now includes all goat cheeses.

CREAMS, Single, Double and Triple: Rich cheese that is high in butterfat. Single creams contain at least 50 percent butterfat, double creams contain at least 60 percent; and triple creams contain at least 70 percent.

FRESH: Uncured cheeses, such as mascarpone, cottage cheese, cream cheese or ricotta. Some cheeses that have been cured for a short time, such as feta, may also be considered fresh.

HARD: Cheeses that hold their shape, like Parmesan.

PART-SKIM: Part-skim milk is used to make cheese, such as mozzarella. Skim milk yields lower fat cheeses than those made with whole milk.

PICKLED CHEESE: Cheese that is stored and packed in a pickling brine. Feta is a pickled cheese.

SEMI-FIRM: Cheeses that hold their shape, yet yield to gentle pressure, like Edam and Gouda.

SHARP: A fully developed, aged cheese. Sharp cheese should have a biting, but not too sour, taste. Cheddar, provolone and some blue varieties may have a sharp flavor.

SMOKED CHEESE: Cheese that is treated with liquid smoke, or smoked over wood chips. Cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and provolone are available smoked.

SOFT-RIPENED: Cheeses that soften as they ripen inside a rind, Like Brie and Camembert.

Source: Sacramento Bee, 10/12/94 Shared by: David Knight Submitted By DAVID KNIGHT On 10-18-94

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