Hints and Tips

Which Soft Cheese Is Which?

Do you know the difference between the various soft cheeses and their uses? If you don’t use them often enough, it can seem a little difficult to work out when to use which and what each is best suited for.

Most soft cheeses have a short shelf life of just two weeks, so you want to make sure you buy what you need and then use it shortly afterwards. We’ll try steer you in the right direction to help substitute one for the other if you don’t have it in the fridge, or as a guide to choosing the right one when you’re next facing different options in the supermarket.

The Different Types Of Soft Cheeses


Cream Cheese

A soft, mild-tasting fresh cheese made from milk and cream

Usually used in cheesecake, savoury spreads, pâtés, sauces and cake icings

Cream cheese needs to be at room temperature when making cheesecake

Matches well with boiled or baked potatoes

Has a fat content of 22-23% so won’t curdle when heated

Can be used instead of butter when making icing, as in carrot cake icing

Cottage Cheese

A fresh cheese curd product with a mild flavour

Usually used to make spreads, pâtés and dips

Goes well with fruit and savoury snacks

Comes in a smooth or chunky texture

Can be found plain or flavoured

Contains very little fat – not more than 4% and sometimes none at all

You can use ricotta cheese as a substitute for cottage cheese

Creamed Cottage Cheese

Plain cottage cheese with added cream

Usually used in baking, spreads and creamy sauces

Has a fat content of about 14%

Substitute by adding cream to cream cheese or mascarpone

Mascarpone Cheese

An Italian cream-based soft cheese with a soft, thick texture and a slightly sweet taste

Usually used for tiramisu, creamy sauces, in baking and in soups

Has a fat content of about 40%

Use creamed cottage cheese or cream as a substitute

Ricotta Cheese

Made from the whey used in making cheese

Has a crumbly texture

Usually used to make lasagne and cannelloni and also used in salads

Has a fat content of about 13%

Cottage cheese can be used as a substitute

Crème Fraîche

Usually used in sweet desserts, cream sauces and soup

Not technically a cheese but a lightly soured thick cream

Has a fat content of about 28% and will not curdle when added to heat

Can be used as a substitute for mascarpone cheese or cream

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The Modern Cheesemaker: Making and cooking with cheeses at home
The Modern Cheesemaker shows you how to make 18 cheeses, from the rich and gooey, to the wonderfully stinky, and all the cheeseboard favourites – including simple, fresh cheeses such as mozzarella and ricotta, working up to salty and versatile halloumi, feta and paneer, perfect, melting Swiss cheese, through to aged Cheddar and Brie.
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