Hard Cheese Vs Soft Cheese – What’s The Difference?

We love cheese! Who doesn’t, right? However, with all the different aspects to it – including production, pairing, and even, it can be a difficult task to begin.

The first step in becoming an expert on everything cheese related is to know the basic distinctions between soft and hard.

What’s the distinction between soft and hard cheese? The primary difference between the two kinds of cheese is their consistency, determined by their moisture level. The greater the moisture, the more brittle the cheese will be.

This article will explore how each product is created, along with different classifications, nutritional data storage directions, and shelf life.

How Hard Cheese is Made

In the first place, to be considered a hard cheese to be classified as hard cheese, the moisture content must be less than 50%.

Anything higher is considered soft cheese.

This is accomplished by giving the cheese time to mature by pressing on the curds in order to split the whey. The cheese can be aged at any time, from a week up to months or even years.

Certain cheeses are aged for at least 40 years! Cheeses that are harder to make develop an edgier taste and a denser texture as it ages.

Milk is the primary ingredient for all cheeses. It can be derived from any animal that produces milk, including goats, cows, buffalo, and sheep.

However, the milk of certain animals, like camels, isn’t able to produce the proper curds, so it’s not used.

Most hard cheeses begin as soft cheeses and are later further processed to reduce the amount of moisture. Making hard cheese involves mixing coagulated protein from milk (curds) and enzymes, like the rennet.

To begin the process, the milk is heated, and an organism, culture, and acid are added. this is the process that creates the curds. Rennet is added to help separate more curds from the whey.

Rennet is what transforms the soft cheese into a hard.

The curds are cut into small chunks with sharp, sterilized knives or blades. They are then heated to facilitate the separation of curds and whey. Once the separation has been completed, the whey is dewatered while the curds get put into the mold.

The curds are crushed, and the maturation of the cheese starts. Different kinds of hard cheese have different procedures. However, it all boils down to the same fundamental procedures.

As long as the cheese ages, the more moisture will be retained and the harder it becomes.

The most well-known hard cheese types include:

Cheddar (aged)



Pecorino Romano


What is the Softest Cheese? is Made

Soft cheeses don’t have to be aged for many years – certain types aren’t even aged in any way.

The duration can vary from just a few days to two weeks. The moisture content must be greater than 50% to be considered soft cheese.

Soft cheeses are produced by combining caseins, milk proteins along with acids.

First, the milk will be heated. It depends on the cheese you wish to make; you could later add a starter culture made of powder bacteria, a starter culture, or an acid coagulant.

Acids that are useful include vinegar, lemon juice, and citric acid.

When curds begin to form, and the pot is cleaned. To make homemade cheese, put the muslin fabric over a sieve or colander, pour all the curds into it, and later tie the cloth to form a bag.

The sack should be suspended over a bowl to ensure that whey can drain properly off the curds.

The kind of ingredients used and the method of production determine the kind of soft cheese created.

For instance, cream cheese is created by mixing the curds. At the same time, ricotta is made by re-curdling water removed from the curds.

Other soft cheeses include:



Mozzarella (Boccocini)



Different cheese types

There are many different classifications for cheese beyond soft and hard. The moisture content of their cheese defines this.

Soft cheeses are creamy cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese camembert, and Brie. These cheeses are spread quickly but are not easy to cut.

Semi-soft cheese can be lightly pressed and has a brief time to age but contains a significant amount of moisture. A few examples include Havarti and Munster. They are easier to slice than soft cheeses.

Semi-hard cheeses come in a variety of textures. However, they cut easily and usually contain eyes (holes) inside the cheese. They are sharper in taste than the soft varieties. This includes Gruyere Gouda, Edam, and cheddar (the ones with a shorter age).

Hard cheeses have the least moisture content and are ideal for grating over food items. They are cheeses that have been molded. They are aged and pressed for months, or even for years. Cheddar matured for more than eight months falls under this category. Other types of hard cheeses are Grana Padano, Parmesan, and Pecorino.

There are also sub-categories. Cheeses with veins are classified as soft cheeses. They contain mold that gives them distinctive flavor and a tough texture.

Hard cheese is classified according to its taste: sharp, mild, and extra-sharp. The distinction is made based on the length of time it has matured.

Illustrations of Soft To Hard Cheeses





Cottage cheese







Grana Padano





Nutrition Content

When people inquire about what cheeses are the healthiest, the answer may not be as simple as it might seem. Certain cheeses have a lower fat content, however, they have they are extremely high in sodium. Cheeses are rich in fat, calcium, and sodium.

If you’re looking to eliminate sodium from your daily diet, keep clear of feta and any other cheese that has been kept in brine. If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of fat you consume, there are many kinds of cheese that offer an alternative that is low-fat or low-fat.

The cheeses most often utilized in diets with low calories include parmesan, goat cheese, feta camembert, and mozzarella. They can be found in the range of 70-85 calories per 1 ounce (30g).

The Shelf as well as Storage Life

Certain soft cheeses, like mozzarella and feta, are kept within brine, or in whey, which can also serve as a preservative.

Other semi-soft or soft cheeses can be enclosed in wax papers or covered in the bell jar/dome so that the cheese is able to breathe and doesn’t dry out or lose its taste.

Cheeses made from hard cheese are wrapped tightly with wax papers to keep drying out of the cheese.

The majority of cheeses need to be stored at temperatures of 40 to 53 degrees (around 4-11 degrees Celsius). It is not advised to freeze cheese because it alters its texture of cheese. However, it is possible to put cheese in freezers when you are not averse to the changes.

The greater the moisture content of cheeses, the less the shelf-life. The cheeses that have been opened can be kept for about a week when kept in the refrigerator due to their moisture content is high.

Unopened hard cheeses are expected to last between 4 and 6 months when kept in proper conditions. Unopened cheeses last longer, approximately 4- 9 months.

Other Questions

Can I make Cheese at home?

Yes, you can! Soft cheeses are much easier to make at home than hard cheeses since they require less time, effort, and equipment.

The making of hard cheese is possible at home. However, you’ll need to purchase or build special presses or molds for hard cheese. Finding the ingredients needed to make cheese is also relatively easy.

What is Processed Cheese? And What is its Categorization?

Processed cheese is made up of hard and soft cheese with added coloring agents as well as emulsifiers and preservatives to produce the smooth, creamy consistency that it is renowned for.

It is a part of the category of soft cheeses; however, it isn’t the traditional, pure cheese.

Are there vegan cheese Alternatives?

There are a lot of vegan and vegetarian cheeses that are available – both soft and hard. These cheeses are made with plant-based milk like almond or coconut milk.

Are there any Lactose-free Cheeses?

The general rule of thumb is that the higher the content of moisture, the greater the lactose level. Certain cheeses made from hard milk, like Munster, Parmesan, and Swiss, are very low in lactose.

However, there are certain soft cheeses that are only exceptions, such as brie and camembert. If you’re sensitive to lactose, then avoid eating real cheeses and opt for products that are “lactose-free.”

Which cheeses have the lowest amount of fat?

Every kind of cheese naturally has fats in it. Cheeses that are low-fat include ricotta Edam along with cottage cheese. Labels that read “low-fat,” “reduced-fat,” or “fat-free” cheese usually contain additional ingredients that may be fat-free but may be unhealthful in other ways.

Are there cheeses that are Not Safe to Eat?

Apart from some individuals with intolerance or allergies to dairy products, any cheese can be safe to eat.

However, be sure that the milk you use is pasteurized since soft raw milk could cause serious health issues. Some countries have a strict prohibition on the consumption of this kind of milk. In some countries, milk producers require special permissions to create and sell milk.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

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