A selection of fresh unripened cheese on a bench.
Fresh unripened cheese

What is fresh cheese?


With no rind, a soft and smooth texture, high in moisture and low in fat, fresh unripened cheeses are known for their simplicity and versatility. With shorter shelf lives, they taste delicate and milky and often lack the distinctive flavours of more mature cheeses.

Unripened cheese types and fresh cheese types come in many forms.

Types of fresh cheese

Cottage cheese

High in moisture, cottage cheese is a soft, white cheese with pea-sized curds giving it a lumpy texture. Generally low in fat, although Continental-style cottage cheese is smoother, firmer and usually sold in a block. Cottage cheese should be stored in a tub or plastic wrap-covered bowl, generally used within a week of purchasing and kept unfrozen.

Cream cheese and neufchatel

Light, smooth and with a creamy consistency. Australian neufchatel is a French name given to a type of cream cheese in Australia. It has a lower fat content and slightly softer texture. Both types are mild, creamy and with a sour tang. It should be stored in original packaging, tub or foil, consumed within 2-3 weeks and kept unfrozen.

Feta

Originally used as a way for shepherds to preserve milk, Australian feta is milder and creamier than imported kinds. It is distinctively white, with a moist, crumbly texture that tastes slightly acidic. It should be fully immersed in its brine solution, and if in vacuum-sealed packs needs to be re-wrapped in plastic film once opened and use within one week. It can be frozen but will change texture.

Quark

Quark is a name for many types of fresh, low-fat cheeses originally from a variety of countries. It can be describes as a cross between yoghurt and cottage cheese, often lower in fat and rich in protein. It has a fresh white appearance, a soft smooth texture, and is both milky and slightly acidic - similar to natural yoghurt. It should look fresh, moist and snowy white.

Marscarpone

Mascarpone was created as a way to use the cream left from making parmesan, which is acidified with vinegar, tartaric acid or lemon juice. It has a light cream colour and a satin-like creamy thick texture with a rich, buttery and slightly tangy flavour. It should be kept in its original container in a refrigerator, and kept unfrozen.

Ricotta (Whey Cheese)

Ricotta means “re-cooked”, and is usually made with a mixture of whey and whole milk. Snowy-white, fine and with moist grains, it’s usually sold in large round wheels and should be medium-firm in texture and not too wet or too solid. Smooth ricotta is usually available in tubs and more suitable for spreading rather than using for cooking. Ricotta is overall delicately mild and milky with a slightly sweet, eggy flavour and a fresh aroma.  

It should be purchased as fresh as possible and eaten within a few days. It should also be discarded if it loses its white shiny look and becomes yellow and sour. One of few cheeses that can keep well when frozen, but is best used for cooking when thawed.