What Makes a Cheese Mild, Medium or Strong?

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What Makes a Cheese Mild, Medium or Strong?
Hard cheese comes in a range of different strengths. (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.

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The Facts

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

What Makes a Cheese Mild, Medium or Strong?
Strong cheese matures for longer than mild cheese. (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 flavour. Some extra-strong cheeses mature for at least two years before they are ready to eat.

What Makes a Cheese Mild, Medium or Strong?
Strong cheese has more flavour than mild cheese. (cheese plate image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com)


Manufacturers add salt to cheese to help the curds mature and to enhance flavour. 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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