Cheddar the World
These two pieces of cheese might not look alike, but they’re both cheddars.
The one on the left is from Wisconsin, and the other is from Scotland.
One’s smooth and meltable, and the other’s crumbly and grassy.
But both cheeses are from the same cheddar family.
So why do they look and taste so different?
WTF is a Cheddar?
All cheddars go through a process called “cheddaring” that helps to
release excess moisture, firm up the texture, and develop that tangy flavor.
The process originated in the English village of Cheddar, in Sommerset, almost 1,000 years ago.
Today, all cheddars go through the process, no matter where they’re made.
Here’s what cheddaring looks like.
First, the milk is coagulated, the whey is drained, and curds are cut into little curds.
Next, they’re pressed into big ol’ slabs and stacked on top of each other.
The slabs are regularly turned, and flipped, then cut up again, and put back into molds for aging.
So if they’re both getting cheddared, how do they end up so different?
American Block Cheddar
- Shaped into big blocks, some as large as 650lbs.
- Aged in wax or vacuum-sealed in plastic.
- Doesn’t have a rind, since it’s not exposed to airflow.
- Higher moisture, since the seal prevents whey from draining.
- Ready in a few months, but can age for years. There’s really no limit to how long they can age.
- Softer, more sliceable, and better for melting, especially on burgers.
- Slightly sweeter and less complex in flavor.
- Tastes exceptional alongside a nutty brown ale.
Isle of Mull Cheddar from Scotland
British-style Clothbound Cheddar
- Molded into much smaller, drum-shaped wheels.
- Coated in fat, like lard or butter, and wrapped in cheesecloth to age.
- Has a firm, textured rind that breathes and interact with its aging environment, creating a musty flavor.
- Less moisture content, since the breathable cloth allows excess whey to drain.
- Only aged for a year or two, otherwise they can become too dry.
- Drier and crumbly — best savored alone or on a cheese plate. Not good for melting.
- Savory and complex flavors, with acidic, fruity and grassy notes.
- Tastes exceptional alongside hoppy IPAs.