Book explores the subtleties of cheeses; The Cheese Buyer's Handbook, by Daniel O'Keefe. New York: McGraw-Hill, $12.50

For anyone really interested in cheese, this handbook is an absolute must. It is a concise guide to cheesemaking, storing, buying, serving, and learning how to be discriminating about the numerous kinds of cheese, both imported and local, on the market today.

This beautifully illustrated volume answers most of the questions anyone might have concerning the subject. Mr. O'Keefe explains that although the basic process of cheesemaking is much the same, types of milk, length of maturing time , and subtle differences in the techniques result in varied textures, flavors, and aromas of cheeses.

Blue-veined cheeses are ripened from the inside out. Cheeses such as Camembert and Brie are surface-ripened cheeses, Mozzarella is made from buffalo milk and Roquefort from ewe's milk.

Although many cheeses are made from pasteurized milk, they never develop the full character and personality of cheeses made from unpasteurized milk because many of the microorganisms have been destroyed, Mr. O'Keefe explains.

Processed cheese takes this one step further. The actual cheese, rather than the milk, is subjected to heat treatment. Because of this, cheese does not continue to mature and develop in flavor, but remains constant throughout its life.

More than 400 types of cheeses are listed alphabetically with a brief background, serving suggestions, country of origin, and fat content of each. All 17 generic cheeses are listed and explained, and a glossary of cheese terms is provided.

Photographer Reg Morrison has contributed much with 100 photographs to assist in identification of color and texture, but unfortunately not aroma.

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