Traditionally cheese was smoked in order to cure or preserve it, sometimes for as long as a month. Smoking gives the cheese a fairly distinctive taste and a yellowy-brown outer rind. Gruyère, Gouda and Scamorza are all smoked cheeses.
Blue cheese is the term given to cheeses like Gorgonzola, Stilton and Roquefort that have cultures of mould added to them. It's believed that blue cheese originated centuries ago when cheese was stored in caves where these 'friendly' moulds were able to flourish. Blue cheeses are great for dessert, served alongside a wine like Port or Sherry.
Goat's cheese is one of the oldest dairy products. It's a healthy alternative to cream cheese as it's lower in fat and cholesterol and it goes perfectly with apricots, raspberries and pear. Goat's cheese also makes a great ingredient for a savoury tart.
Cheddar & other semi-hard cheeses
Cheddar is a semi-hard, yellowish cheese that originated in the village of Cheddar in England. It's still the most popular cheese in the UK. Other cheeses like Red Leicester - which is similar to Cheddar but coloured orange - and Edam, are great sandwich fillers.
Hard, aged cheeses
Parmesan, Pecorino, Manchego and some types of Cheddar are all hard cheeses. Hard cheese is made by ageing it, sometimes for as long as two years. The ageing process makes the cheese much more pungent and gives it a longer shelf life.
Well known sheep's cheeses include Feta, Haloumi, Roquefort and Manchego. Haloumi was first made in Cyprus and is a great cheese for cooking, thanks to its high melting point and salty flavour, while Manchego is one of Spain's most famous cheeses.
Swiss cheese, often known for its holey appearance, is great as an ingredient in grilled cheese sandwiches or fondue. The most popular types are Emmental, Raclette and Gruyère. Interesting fact: Swiss cheese that doesn't contain holes is called 'blind'.
Think gooey, creamy and sometimes stinky. Brie and Camembert are among the most famous soft cheeses - ideal for dessert, they also work well in sandwiches. Mozzarella, a semi-soft cheese, is the perfect pizza topper or salad ingredient.
Cottage cheese is a cheese curd product that dates back to the 19th century. Its mild flavour means it goes well with lots of things and because it's low in fat and calories, it also makes a great alternative to fattier cheeses if you're watching your weight.
What's a bagel without a cream cheese filling? Or a cheesecake without the, well, cheese? Cream cheese is one of the most versatile cheeses around, perfect for both savoury and sweet cooking.