Cheddar is one of the most recognizable, beloved and versatile cheeses in the world. Originating in the quaint English village of Cheddar in the 12th century, this cheese has evolved over the centuries, transcending geographical boundaries to become a global sensation.
Cheddar cheese is a firm, smooth-textured cheese that varies in flavor, ranging from mild and creamy to sharp and tangy. The cheese is typically made from cow's milk, but variations using goat or sheep's milk exist. The distinctive color of cheddar, ranging from pale ivory to deep orange, is often achieved by adding natural coloring agents like annatto.
Historical Evolution of Cheddar
Cheddar cheese's roots trace back to the English village of Cheddar in Somerset, where it was first produced in the 12th century. Initially crafted in the caves of the Cheddar Gorge, the cheese-making process has undergone significant refinement over the years. The term "cheddaring" was coined to describe the unique process of stacking and turning the curds during production, leading to the creation of the distinctive texture and flavor that define cheddar.
Cheddar cheese comes in a spectrum of flavors and textures, making it suitable for a myriad of culinary applications. The aging process plays a big role in determining the chees's characteristics. Here are some key varieties:
Mild Cheddar: Aged for a shorter duration, mild cheddar boasts a smooth and creamy texture with a subtle tang. It's an excellent choice for melting and is often used in sandwiches and casseroles.
Medium Cheddar: Aged for a moderate period, medium cheddar strikes a balance between mild and sharp. It offers a more pronounced flavor profile, making it suitable for both snacking and cooking.
Sharp Cheddar: Aged for an extended period, sharp cheddar develops a bold and tangy flavor with a crumbly texture. This variety is ideal for those who appreciate a more intense cheddar experience.
Extra Sharp Cheddar: Aged for the longest duration, extra sharp cheddar is characterized by its robust flavor and often crumbly texture. It's a favorite among cheese connoisseurs and stands out when enjoyed on its own or paired with bold accompaniments.
Artisanal and Farmhouse Cheddar: Crafted using traditional methods and often aged in cloth, artisanal and farmhouse cheddars showcase a depth of flavor and complexity. These cheeses capture the essence of the cheese-making craft, with producers emphasizing craftsmanship and quality.
Notable Producers of Cheddar Cheese
Barbers - https://www.barbers.co.uk/
Beechers - https://beechershandmadecheese.com/
Mystic Cheese - https://www.mysticcheese.co/
Fiscalini Farmstead - https://fiscalinifarmstead.com/
Keens Cheddar - https://www.keenscheddar.co.uk/
Cabot Creamery - https://cabotcreamery.com/
Grafton Village Cheese - https://www.graftonvillagecheese.com/
Tillamook Creamery - https://www.tillamook.com/products/cheese