Cheeses that are classified as hard cheeses do not require refrigeration. Hard cheeses have a grainy texture because the curds they contain are cut very fine. They are typically aged for years, as opposed to a few months (like emmental cheese) or being served fresh (such as mozzarella). They are sometimes called grating cheese since they are shaved for topping dishes, such as pasta, but they are also served on cheese plates and paired with wines.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is an Italian cheese that has a granular texture and a smell similar to yeast. According to the Reluctant Gourmet, the cows that produce the milk for the cheese are kept on a stringent diet and strict production codes have ensured the cheese has been made with the same process for about 700 years. Parmigiano-reggiano is aged for about 24 months.
Gouda (pronounced "HOW-duh") comes from the Netherlands and is made with goat's, sheep's or cow's milk. Although Gouda can be aged for as little as six months, it can also be aged for 24 months. Sometimes the cheese is aged for as long as five years, a process that makes it turn a butterscotch colour.
Piave (pronounced "pee-AH-veh") vecchio is a cheese that takes its name from the Piave river in the Italian province of Veneto. It's made from the milk of cows that live in the region. The pale cheese has a fruity flavour that also carries a nutty bitterness. Piave vecchio is usually aged for one year.
Sbrinz (pronounced "sh-PLEE-ence"), the oldest known Swiss cheese, is regarded as the father of hard cheeses. Made with whole raw cow's milk, sbrinz has a smooth and nutty taste. It can be served as a younger cheese that's been aged from 18 months to three years. However, sbrinz can be aged up to eight years -- and even longer -- giving the cheese a more complex flavour.
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