Fresh cheeses are soft and moist, while aged cheeses are hard and dry. The color varies as well, with fresh cheese tending to have a whiter, more milk-like appearance than the darker colors that come with aging cheese.
Hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Gruyere and most cheddars are more suitable for grating, and the aging process helps to accentuate the flavors. Soft cheeses tend to have a more mild, creamy taste and include mozzarella, mascarpone, ricotta and cream cheese.
A variety of cheeses between fresh and aged exist from soft cheese such as Bel Paese that ages for less than two months and soft-ripened cheeses that have a harder rind and a creamy center. Cheesemakers make soft-ripened cheeses by spraying the outside with penicillium candidum, a mold that enables the cheese to ripen from the outside in. These types of cheeses include Brie and Camembert. Semi-soft cheeses such as Garroxta, Havarti, fontina and Monterey Jack are firmer than soft-ripened cheese with a longer aging process and no rind.
Pasta filata cheese is a cheese category that describes a method of cheesemaking rather than the length of aging. Pasta filata or spun cheeses include fresh cheeses like Mozzarella or aged cheeses including provolone and scamorza. Some cheeses such as gouda are smoked during the aging process.