Cow's milk cheese named for the English town of Cheddar and a cheesemaking process developed there. Typically quite firm, and a bit crumbly. The more cheddar ages, more it is described as "sharp," which is a strong tangy flavor. Extra sharp cheddars are aged for years before selling to the public. In the United States, several states are renowned for their cheddar production, including New York, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington.
firm, semi-hard orange, yellow or white cheese
Selecting and Buying
Prefer a farmhouse cheddar cheese, which is not mass-produced. Professional cheesemakers prepare the cheddar by hand according to a traditional "cheddaring" technique.
Read the label ingredients on the cheddar before buying it. Make sure the cheese contains at least 50 percent milk fat.
Touch the cheddar to feel its texture. Choose the cheese with the flaky and hard surface. Prefer also a fine-grained rather than coarse-grained texture.
Plan to test the cheddar by melting it. Inferior quality cheddars appear greasy when melted because the fat and solids separate. High quality cheddars remain intact and velvety when melted.
Check the amount of protein noted on the label of the cheese. Cheddars containing higher protein contents taste better. High protein means the maker used a premium quality milk.
Buy several different brands and compare their taste. Aim for a sharp, nutty and full-flavored taste. Inferior quality cheddars taste flat and lack "bite."
Examine the cheese's packaging. Manufacturers of an inferior cheddar cheese wrap their products in flimsy cellophane. However, pricier farmhouse cheddar producers double wrap their cheeses, first in sturdy cloth and then in heavy duty plastic.
Preparation and Use
Conserving and Storing
Freezing cheddar alters the texture of the cheese, but it will retain its flavor and can be used for cooking in the same way as cheddar that has never been frozen.
Before storing your cheddar cheese, examine the cheese block to make sure that it does not have any mold on the surface. Do not eat or attempt to store cheese that has become contaminated with mold.
For best results, store cheddar cheese in its original packaging or in a sturdy plastic wrap. You might find it best to wrap the cheese block in plastic wrap and then place the wrapped portion of cheese in a zipped storage bag or freezer bag.
The ideal temperature for storage cheese in the refrigerator is about 40 degrees. Cheese frozen in the freezer will last longer than refrigerated cheese, but you can expect the cheese to acquire a dry, crumbly texture after prolonged freezing. The change in texture does not affect the flavor of frozen cheese, which is most suitable for cooking.