Cheddar cheese is a relatively hard, off-white (or orange if spices such as annatto are added), sometimes sharp-tasting, natural cheese. Originating in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset, cheeses of this style are produced beyond the region and in several countries around the world.
Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the UK, accounting for 51% of the country's £1.9 billion annual cheese market. It is the second-most popular cheese in the US (behind mozzarella), with an average annual consumption of 10 lb (4.5 kg) per capita. The US produced approximately 3,000,000,000 lb (1,300,000 long tons; 1,400,000 tonnes) in 2014, and the UK 258,000 long tons (262,000 tonnes) in 2008.
The term "Cheddar cheese" is widely used, but has no protected designation of origin within the European Union. However, in 2007 a Protected Designation of Origin, "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar", was created and only Cheddar produced from local milk within Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and manufactured using traditional methods may use the name. Outside of Europe, the style and quality of cheeses labelled as cheddar may vary greatly, with some processed cheeses being packaged as "cheddar" while bearing little resemblance. Furthermore, certain cheeses that are more similar in taste and appearance to Red Leicester are sometimes popularly marketed as "Red Cheddar".
|Country of origin||United Kingdom, England|
|Source of milk||Cows|
|Aging time||3–24 months depending on variety|
|Certification||West Country Farmhouse Cheddar PDO, Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar PGI|
The cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, south west England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 mi (48 km) of Wells Cathedral.
Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. A pipe roll of King Henry II from 1170 records the purchase of 10,240 lb (4,640 kg) at a farthing per pound (totalling £10.13s.4d). Charles I (1600–1649) also bought cheese from the village. Romans may have brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France.
Central to the modernisation and standardisation of Cheddar cheese was the 19th-century Somerset dairyman Joseph Harding. For his technical innovations, promotion of dairy hygiene, and volunteer dissemination of modern cheese-making techniques, he has been dubbed "the father of Cheddar cheese". Harding introduced new equipment to the process of cheese-making, including his "revolving breaker" for curd cutting, saving much manual effort. The "Joseph Harding method" was the first modern system for Cheddar production based upon scientific principles. Harding stated that Cheddar cheese is "not made in the field, nor in the byre, nor even in the cow, it is made in the dairy". His wife and he were behind the introduction of the cheese into Scotland and North America. His sons, Henry and William Harding, were responsible for introducing Cheddar cheese production to Australia and facilitating the establishment of the cheese industry in New Zealand, respectively.
During the Second World War, and for nearly a decade after, most milk in Britain was used for the making of one single kind of cheese nicknamed "Government Cheddar" as part of war economies and rationing. This almost resulted in wiping out all other cheese production in the country. Before the First World War, more than 3,500 cheese producers were in Britain; fewer than 100 remained after the Second World War.
The curds and whey are separated using rennet, an enzyme complex normally produced from the stomachs of newborn calves (in vegetarian or kosher cheeses, bacterial, yeast or mould-derived chymosin is used).
"Cheddaring" refers to an additional step in the production of Cheddar cheese where, after heating, the curd is kneaded with salt, cut into cubes to drain the whey, and then stacked and turned. Strong, extra-mature Cheddar, sometimes called vintage, needs to be matured for 15 months or more. The cheese is kept at a constant temperature, often requiring special facilities. As with other hard cheese varieties produced worldwide, caves provide an ideal environment for maturing cheese; still, today, some Cheddar cheese is matured in the caves at Wookey Hole and Cheddar Gorge. Additionally, some versions of Cheddar cheese are smoked.
The ideal quality of the original Somerset Cheddar was described by Joseph Harding in 1864 as "close and firm in texture, yet mellow in character or quality; it is rich with a tendency to melt in the mouth, the flavour full and fine, approaching to that of a hazelnut".
Cheddar made in the classical way tends to have a sharp, pungent flavour, often slightly earthy. The "sharpness" of cheddar is associated with the levels of bitter peptides in the cheese. This bitterness has been found to be significant to the overall perception of the aged Cheddar flavour. The texture is firm, with farmhouse traditional Cheddar being slightly crumbly; it should also, if mature, contain large cheese crystals consisting of calcium lactate – often precipitated when matured for times longer than six months.
Cheddar can be a deep to pale yellow (off-white) colour, or a yellow-orange colour when certain plant extracts are added. One commonly used spice is annatto, extracted from seeds of the tropical achiote tree. Originally added to simulate the colour of high-quality milk from grass-fed Jersey and Guernsey cows, annatto may also impart a sweet, nutty flavour. The largest producer of Cheddar cheese in the United States, Kraft, uses a combination of annatto and oleoresin paprika, an extract of the lipophilic (oily) portion of paprika.
Cheddar cheese was sometimes (and still can be found) packaged in black wax, but was more commonly packaged in larded cloth, which was impermeable to contaminants, but still allowed the cheese to "breathe".
The Slow Food Movement has created a Cheddar Presidium, arguing that only three cheeses should be called "original Cheddar". Their specifications, which go further than the "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" PDO, require that Cheddar cheese be made in Somerset and with traditional methods, such as using raw milk, traditional animal rennet, and a cloth wrapping.
The Cheddar cheese name is used internationally; its name does not have a PDO, but the use of the name "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" does. In addition to the United Kingdom, Cheddar cheese is also made in Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Finland and the United States. Cheddars can be industrial or artisan cheeses. The flavour, colour, and quality of industrial cheese varies significantly, and food packaging will usually indicate a strength, such as mild, medium, strong, tasty, sharp, extra sharp, mature, old, or vintage; this may indicate the maturation period, or food additives used to enhance the flavour. Artisan varieties develop strong and diverse flavours over time.
As of 2013, Cheddar accounts for over 55% of the Australian cheese market, with average annual consumption around 7.5 kg (17 lb) per person. Cheddar is so commonly found that the name is rarely used: instead, Cheddar is sold by strength alone as e.g. "mild", "tasty" or "sharp".
Following a wheat midge outbreak in Canada in the mid-19th century, farmers in Ontario began to convert to dairy farming in large numbers, and Cheddar cheese became their main exportable product, even being exported to England. By the turn of the 20th century, 1,242 Cheddar factories were in Ontario, and Cheddar had become Canada's second-largest export after timber. Cheddar exports totalled 234,000,000 lb (106,000,000 kg) in 1904, but by 2012, Canada was a net importer of cheese. James L. Kraft grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario, before moving to Chicago. According to the writer Sarah Champman, "Although we cannot wholly lay the decline of cheese craft in Canada at the feet of James Lewis Kraft, it did correspond with the rise of Kraft’s processed cheese empire." Most Canadian Cheddar is produced in the provinces of Québec (40.8%) and Ontario (36%), though other provinces produce some and some smaller artisanal producers exist. The annual production is 120,000 tons. It is aged a minimum of three months, but much of it is held for much longer, up to 10 years.
Much of the Cheddar cheese in New Zealand is factory produced. While most of it is sold young within the country, the Anchor dairy company ships New Zealand Cheddars to the UK, where the blocks mature for another year or so.
Only one producer of the cheese is now based in Cheddar itself, the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co. The name "cheddar" is not protected by the European Union, though the name "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" has an EU protected designation of origin, and may only be produced in Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall, using milk sourced from those counties. Cheddar is usually sold as mild, medium, mature, extra mature or vintage. Mature cheddar is the best-selling variety in the UK. Cheddar produced in Orkney is registered as an EU protected geographical indication under the name "Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar".
The state of Wisconsin produces the most cheddar cheese in the United States; other centres of production include: California, Idaho, Upstate New York, Vermont, Oregon, Texas, and Oklahoma. It is sold in several varieties (mild, medium, sharp, extra-sharp, New York-style, white, and Vermont). New York-style Cheddar is particularly "sharp"/acidic, but tends to be somewhat softer than the milder-tasting varieties. Cheddar that does not contain annatto is frequently labelled "white Cheddar" or "Vermont Cheddar" (regardless of whether it was actually produced there). Vermont's three creameries produce Cheddar cheeses: the Cabot Creamery, which produces the 16-month-old "Private Stock Cheddar", the Grafton Village Cheese Company, and Shelburne Farms.
Some processed cheeses or "cheese foods" are called "Cheddar flavored". Examples include Easy Cheese: a cheese-food packaged in a pressurised spray can; also, as packs of square, sliced, individually wrapped, "processed cheese" (sometimes also pasteurised).
Cheddar is one of several products used by the United States Department of Agriculture to track the status of America's overall dairy industry; reports are issued weekly detailing prices and production quantities.
U.S. President Andrew Jackson once held an open house party at the White House at which he served a 1,400 lb (640 kg) block of Cheddar cheese. The White House is said to have smelled of cheese for weeks.
A cheese of 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) was produced in Ingersoll, Ontario, in 1866 and exhibited in New York and Britain; it was described in the poem "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese Weighing over 7,000 Pounds" by Canadian poet James McIntyre.
In 1893, farmers from the town of Perth, Ontario, produced "The Mammoth Cheese", which weighed 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) for the Chicago World's Fair. It was planned to be exhibited at the Canadian display, but the mammoth cheese fell through the floor and was placed on a reinforced concrete floor in the Agricultural Building. It received the most journalistic attention at the fair and was awarded the bronze medal. A larger, Wisconsin cheese of 34,951 lb (15,854 kg) was made for the 1964 New York World's Fair. A cheese this size would use the equivalent of the daily milk production of 16,000 cows.
Oregon members of the Federation of American Cheese-makers created the largest Cheddar cheese in 1989. The cheese weighed 56,850 lb (25,790 kg).
The American submarine sandwich also known as American sub, All-American sub, American hoagie or American hero is a type of submarine sandwich similar to the ham and cheese sandwich and Italian sandwich. The American submarine focuses on American meats instead of Italian and traditionally uses, sliced Turkey breast, ham, roast beef, American or cheddar cheese, chopped or shredded lettuce, tomatoes and green peppers on a roll of bread. Some variations include bologna, salami or both.A French variation called pan bagnat includes tuna.Applewood cheese
Applewood, or Applewood smoked cheddar, is a round, white smoke-flavoured Cheddar cheese that is manufactured by Norseland Limited (formerly Ilchester Cheese Company) in Somerset, England.Arizona cheese crisp
An Arizona cheese crisp (simply "cheese crisp" in the region) is an open-faced, flour tortilla covered in shredded cheese. It is put on a metal pizza pan that has been brushed with butter or margarine and put under a broiler until it gets crisp. It is similar to a quesadilla, but distinct in that a cheese crisp is not folded over, and that it is also baked until the tortilla becomes crisp. Common cheeses to use include in various combinations are Oaxaca, Monterey jack, or Cheddar. Cheese crisps sometimes are topped with onions, cilantro, or peppers. The cheese crisp is said to have been made famous by El Charro Café in Tucson, Arizona Cheese crisps are ubiquitous in Arizona, but rarely found outside the state other than places popular with Arizona tourists such as Puerto Peñasco and San Diego.Beer cheese (spread)
Beer cheese is a cheese spread most commonly found in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Similarly named cheese products can be found in other regions of the United States, but beer cheese spread itself is not widely distributed. Despite this fact, the product is nearly ubiquitous in Kentucky. There are a number of different brands that are popular – most are similar in taste and texture. Fans of the snack usually have their favorite brand, and there are many homemade versions which use a wide variety of ingredients to add personalization.Commercially produced beer cheese spread usually consists of a processed cheese base with a sharp cheddar flavor, while homemade varieties almost always start with sharp cheddar cheese. To this, enough beer is added to provide flavor and texture, as well as garlic and a variety of spices including dry mustard, horseradish and cayenne pepper. Most varieties come in mild and hot versions, but all tend to have a strong garlic flavor. Beer cheese is traditionally served with saltine crackers, though it can be found served with various other crackers and crudités, most often as an appetizer.Better Cheddars
Better Cheddars is a snack food brand of baked cheese crackers that are prepared using cheddar cheese as a main ingredient. Better Cheddars are manufactured by Nabisco, a subsidiary of Mondelēz International. In the United States, Better Cheddars are marketed under the "Flavor Originals" trademark, which also includes the Chicken in a Biskit brand. Better Cheddars were first introduced by Nabisco in February 1981. Various flavors of the cracker have been purveyed to consumers.Béal Organic Cheese
Béal Organic Cheese is the first organic cheddar cheese in Ireland. The cheese won a silver medal at the World Cheese awards in 2009.Béal Organic Cheese is handmade from cow's milk. It originates from the Béal Lodge Dairy Farm, a small family-run dairy farm of Holstein cows on 56 acres located by the mouth of the River Shannon in Listowel, County Kerry in Ireland.
Kate Carmody began making cheese in 1987, after her mother presented her with a gift consisting of a cheese press and a book on making cheese. In 1997, she began the process of converting to organic production. She achieved full organic status in 2000, becoming the first organically produced Irish Cheddar cheese.There are three products in the Béal Organic Cheese range, although the availability of the cheese is subject to seasonal availability:
Béal Mild Organic Irish Cheddar is made from pasteurised milk and vegetarian rennet.
Béal Handmade Mature Organic Cheddar is made from pasteurised milk and vegetarian rennet.
Béal Raw Milk Mature Organic Cheddar is made from raw unpasteurised milk and vegetarian rennet, and takes up to nine months to fully mature.Cahill's Farm Cheese
Cahill's Farm Cheese is handmade Cheddar cheese from Newcastlewest County Limerick in Ireland. Cheese has been made on the Cahill family farm since the 1950s, but it was not until the 1980s that Cahill's began commercial cheese production end export.Cauliflower cheese
Cauliflower cheese is a traditional British dish. It can be eaten as a main course, for lunch or dinner, or as a side dish.
Cauliflower cheese consists of pieces of cauliflower lightly boiled and covered with a milk-based cheese sauce, for which a mature cheese (such as cheddar) tends to be preferred. A more elaborate white sauce or cheddar cheese sauce flavoured with English mustard and nutmeg may also be used. The dish is topped with grated cheese (sometimes mixed with bread crumbs) and baked in the oven to finish it.Cheddar Cheese I Say
Cheddar Cheese I Say is the sixth full-length studio solo album released by Keak Da Sneak on August 28, 2012. it features guest appearances from Big Hollis among others.Cheddar sauce
Cheddar sauce, cheddar cheese sauce, or cheese sauce is a traditional sauce used in English cooking. The sauce is based upon white sauce, which is known as one of the 'mother sauces', and cheddar cheese. It could be seen as an English equivalent of the French Mornay sauce (itself a variant of Béchamel sauce traditionally mixed with half Gruyère and half Parmesan). The sauce is made by adding an amount of cheddar cheese to white sauce and then spiced using English mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pepper among other ingredients.
It can be purchased both as a ready to use sauce and as a powder in British supermarkets. In the United States, a mass-produced cheddar sauce is purveyed under the Ragú brand, and is called "double cheddar sauce".Cheese slaw
Cheese slaw is a salad and side dish consisting of cheddar cheese, carrot, mayonnaise, and sometimes cabbage. Other cheeses such as blue and Swiss are occasionally used in its preparation, and additional vegetable ingredients are sometimes used. The word "cheese slaw" is a portmanteau of the words cheese and coleslaw. Its origins can be traced to Townsville in far north Queensland, Australia, and to Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. It is a common and popular dish in Broken Hill restaurants and households. Cheese slaw is also consumed in some areas of the United States.Cheez-It
Cheez-It is a cheese cracker manufactured by the Kellogg Company through its Sunshine Biscuits division. Approximately 26 by 24 millimetres (1.0 by 0.94 in), the almost square crackers are made with wheat flour, vegetable oil, sharp cheddar cheese, salt, and spices.
Cheez-It crackers were introduced in 1921 by the Green & Green Company, a manufacturer of snack crackers based in Dayton, Ohio, and were marketed using the tagline "A Baked Rarebit." Sunshine Biscuits acquired Green & Green in 1932. Sunshine Biscuits became a subsidiary of the Keebler Company in 1996. Keebler, in turn, was acquired by Kellogg in 2001.Davidstow Cheddar
Davidstow Cheddar is a brand of Cheddar cheese manufactured by Dairy Crest, at Davidstow in Cornwall, United Kingdom, alongside Cathedral City Cheddar.Cheddar has been produced at Davidstow for over 60 years, the plant being set up there in 1951 by Cow & Gate. Milk is supplied by 300 farms in Cornwall and Devon, all within a 50-mile radius. The Davidstow plant is the largest in Britain, having been upgraded in 2004, and has the capacity to produce 1,000 tonnes of Davidstow and Cathedral City cheese per week.Davidstow won Gold trophies at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich in 2010 and 2011. Celebrity chef Rick Stein has put his name to a brand of savoury oat biscuits with Davidstow cheddar cheese. Davidstow cheddar is used by chef Nathan Outlaw in his two Michelin star restaurant.Isle of Mull Cheddar
Isle of Mull Cheddar is a very sharp white cheddar cheese with a blue vein, from the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. It is made from unpasteurised milk.Joseph Harding
Joseph Harding (22 March 1805 in Sturton Farm, Wanstrow, Somerset, England – 1 May 1876 in Vale Court Farm, Marksbury, Somerset) was responsible for the introduction of modern cheese making techniques and has been described as the "father of Cheddar cheese". He is credited with having invented the "definite formula" for the production of cheddar cheese.A number of websites describe him as the inventor of the Cheese Mill. It is unclear if this assertion is true. The cheese mill is different from the cheese press, which has been used traditionally for centuries. Certainly Harding introduced new equipment into the process of cheese making,
including a "revolving breaker" for curd cutting, which saved much manual effort.Manufacture of cheddar cheese
The manufacture of Cheddar cheese includes the process of cheddaring, which makes this cheese unique.
Cheddar cheese is named for the village of Cheddar in Somerset in South West England where it was originally made. The manufacture has since spread around the world and the name has become generic.Potato skins
Potato skins are a snack food or appetizer made of unpeeled potato halves, hollowed and dressed with bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions. They are commonly found on the menus of casual dining restaurants such as T.G.I. Friday's, which is known for serving them. While commonly eaten in restaurants, these snacks are also commonly made at home.Red Windsor (Cheese)
Red Windsor is a pale cream, English cheddar cheese, made using pasteurised cow's milk marbled with a wine, often a Bordeaux wine or a blend of port wine and brandy.