© Denzil Green
There are entire books and articles dedicated to cheddar, so loved is it throughout the English-speaking world.
It originated in Cheddar, Somerset.
Methods of making Cheddar will vary by cheesemaker, but here in broad strokes is the general process. A bacterial starter culture is added to heated milk. The starter is allowed to percolate for about an hour, then rennet is added to curdle the cheese. When curds have formed, the liquid whey is drained off, then the curds are cut, stacked and heated to encourage more whey to drain out. The curd is then turned over, cut into slabs, let stand overnight with a weight on them, then let stand to finish draining, about 4 days.
The cheese is then aged to develop varying degrees of bite.
The "cheddaring process" is the part where the curd is cut, turned and stacked.
There are many varieties of Cheddar. The name "Cheddar" is not a protected EU designation name: "Protection of the name 'Cheddar' is not sought" (EU COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 1107/96.) One variety, though, has an EU protected designation as of 1996 (West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese - PDO), and it is possible overtime that other regional varieties may apply as well.
The only cheese-maker maker actually in Cheddar, Somerset is the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, founded in 2003 (extant as of 2011.) They make their cheddar using unpasteurised milk from local cows. The cheese is aged in rounds wrapped in linen, to allow it to breathe as it ages for up to a year.
1 1/3 cups cubed Cheddar Cheese = 1/2 pound = 225g
1/3 cup cubed Cheddar Cheese = 2 oz = 60g
30 g (1 oz) Cheddar, grated = 3 heaping tablespoons
Cheddar freezes well. After freezing it may be a bit too crumbly for eating, but it is still great for cooking with.
When large blocks of cheddar come on sale, consider buying 3 or 4 of them. Grate them all with a food mill or food processor, pack the grated cheese loosely in freezer bags, and freeze. This gives you instant grated cheese to speed up evening meal preparation, or to dress up dishes when you feel at the last minute that some grated cheese on top or stirred in would be just the ticket. If you had to go to the bother all the time of grating cheese on the spot, you might not have the inclination or time to go to the extra work and clean-up: but because it's ready to go and in your "store cupboard", frozen grated Cheddar is able to jazz up your dishes whenever you feel like it.
- © Denzil Green
Cheddar is a British cheese, which the Brits took with them when they settled countries such as the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. But so ingrained is the cheese now in those countries it is understandable that many grow up thinking Cheddar to be a Canadian or Australian cheese, and are surprised to discover that the Brits make it, too.
Literature & Lore
Smale, Will. Separating the curds from the whey: Cheddar cheese has gone a long way since it was invented in the quaint Somerset village of the same name back in the Middle Ages. BBC News, Somerset. 21 August 2006.
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