Hard cheeses generally have a thick rind (though if you don't purchase full wheels, the rind may have been removed by the time it gets to you) and are often waxed, oiled, or clothbound. The hardness of a cheese is largely due to how much whey is lost from the curd before it's put into a mould. Reducing the moisture in the curd lengthens the fermentation process, producing more rounded flavor. Most hard cheeses require at least a few weeks to mature (in caves or other cool, humid places); the longer a cheese ages, the stronger its flavor.

Common hard cheeses include Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cheddar, Manchego, and Gruyère.

The texture of hard cheeses make them ideal for grating, and the concentration of flavor with minimal moisture makes them good candidates for cooking.

Gritchka tells me that 'hard cheese' is British slang for tough luck. It's been in use since at least the late 1800s.

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