How do I choose the best Fontina cheese?

A thick slice of fontina cheese.

When selecting a fontina cheese, the customer must pay attention to all the qualities of the cheese. The cheese must be visually examined to verify that the color is uniform and that there is no mold. Handling the cheese can help determine if it has ripened evenly. If possible, the cheese should also be smelled and tasted before it is purchased, as the quality of fontina cheese depends primarily on its taste.

The buyer must check the appearance of the cheese before purchasing it. Fontina cheese is usually light yellow or cream in the center, with a more pronounced yellow hue on the rind, which is usually a medium shade of orange-brown. There should be no blue or green spots on the cheese, which indicates that it has mold. Small holes in the cheese can be ignored as they often form as air bubbles get trapped in the fermenting cheese.

Texture is another important consideration when choosing a fontina cheese. In its softest form, fontina should sag when squeezed, but it shouldn’t be so soft that it breaks apart. When firmer, fontina is hard to the touch, though not as firm as a dried jackfruit or Parmesan. The texture should be similar throughout the cheese, with no soft or hard spots.

Cheese odor should also be taken into consideration when choosing a cheese. In general, young fontina cheese, still soft, has a mild smell, but should not be too spicy. Older cheese can have a pronounced odor. Fontina cheese will ripen if left at room temperature, causing the odor to increase in intensity.

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Finally, the most important factor in fontina cheese selection is the taste of the cheese. Whenever possible, cheese should be tasted before purchase, which is a common practice in cheese shops and even some modern supermarkets. The younger cheese is light and creamy, but the aged fontina has a more nutty and complex flavor. By tasting the cheese first, the customer can be sure that they are buying a cheese they will like. One should choose a fontina cheese that has the type of flavor that best complements its intended use.

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