The Wonderful World of Cheddar: A Journey Through History, Types, and Pairings

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A Slice of History: The Origins of Cheddar Cheese

When it comes to cheese, one name stands out as a true classic: Cheddar. This beloved cheese has a rich history, hailing from the picturesque countryside of England. Join us on a delightful journey through the origins, types, and production of Cheddar cheese. Plus, discover the perfect pairings that elevate its flavours to new heights. Don’t miss the chance to participate in the Great Cheese Challenge, an online tasting event presented by No2 Pound Street, where you can cast your vote for the finest Cheddar cheese varieties from the UK.

Cheddar cheese, often referred to simply as “Cheddar,” takes its name from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. This iconic cheese’s history dates back to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest varieties in the world. Back then, cheese was made by farmers in the region, and it was a way to preserve surplus milk during the summer months. These early Cheddars were aged in the caves of Cheddar Gorge, a natural environment that provided optimal conditions for ageing.

The popularity of cheese grew steadily over the centuries, and by the 19th century, it had become a staple in British households. The Industrial Revolution brought innovations to cheese production, such as the use of cheese presses and improved dairy hygiene practices. These developments further enhanced the quality and consistency of cheese.

The Cheese Spectrum: Types and Varieties

Cheddar cheese comes in a range of flavours and textures, and its profile can vary depending on factors such as ageing, milk source, and regional nuances. Here are some of the notable Cheddar cheese types:

  1. Mild: This young cheese is typically aged for a few months, offering a creamy and mild flavour. It’s a perfect choice for those who prefer a less assertive cheese taste.
  2. Medium: Aged for about six to nine months, medium Cheddar boasts a slightly tangy flavour with a firmer texture. It strikes a balance between mild and sharp Cheddars.
  3. Sharp: Aged for over a year, sharp Cheddar has a robust, tangy flavour and a crumbly texture. It’s a favourite for snacking and grating.
  4. Extra Sharp: Aged for 18 months or more, this Cheddar variety is intense in both flavour and texture. Its deep, complex taste makes it a go-to choice for cheese enthusiasts.
  5. White: Made from cow’s milk without the addition of annatto (a natural dye), white Cheddar has a pale ivory colour and a slightly different flavour profile compared to its orange counterpart.
  6. Vintage: Aged for several years, vintage Cheddar is the pinnacle of Cheddar cheese. It boasts an incredibly rich and crystalline texture, with deep, nutty flavours that evolve with time.

Crafting Cheddar: The Cheese-Making Process

Cheddar cheese-making is an art that combines tradition and precision. Here’s a brief overview of how this delectable cheese is crafted:

  1. Milk Collection: The process begins with high-quality cow’s milk. The milk is sourced from local dairy farms known for their exceptional milk quality.
  2. Curd Formation: Bacteria cultures and rennet are added to the milk to initiate curd formation. The curd is then cut into small pieces, allowing whey to separate.
  3. Cooking the Curd: The curds are gently heated to release more whey and develop the desired texture and flavour. The higher the cooking temperature, the firmer the resulting cheese.
  4. Draining and Cheddaring: The curds are drained of whey and stacked in layers to develop their unique texture. This process, known as cheddaring, gives Cheddar cheese its name.
  5. Salting: Salt is added to the curds for flavour and preservation. The salted curds are then packed into moulds to shape the cheese.
  6. Ageing: The cheese wheels are placed in specially designed cheese cellars, where they age for various durations. This ageing process is crucial for developing Cheddar’s distinct taste and texture.

Pairing Perfection: Best Companions for Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese is incredibly versatile and pairs wonderfully with an array of accompaniments. Here are some classic and creative pairings to enhance your Cheddar experience:

Apple Slices: The crisp, slightly sweet nature of apple slices complements the creamy and savoury notes of Cheddar cheese.

Crackers and Bread: Opt for crusty baguettes, whole-grain crackers, or artisanal bread to provide a satisfying crunch alongside your cheese.

Chutney: A spoonful of fruity or spiced chutney adds a burst of flavour that contrasts beautifully with the cheese’s richness.

Charcuterie: Consider adding a selection of cured meats, such as prosciutto or salami, to create a balanced cheese board.

Honey: Drizzle a bit of honey over your cheese for a sweet and savoury contrast that’s sure to delight your taste buds.

Pickles: Tangy pickles or gherkins offer a refreshing and zesty counterpoint to the cheese’s creamy texture.

Join the Great Cheese Challenge

As a cheese aficionado, you won’t want to miss the Great Cheddar Cheese Challenge, hosted by No2 Pound Street. This exciting online tasting event allows you to sample six exceptional cheese varieties from across the UK. It’s your chance to cast your vote and crown the finest cheese in the land.

To participate, simply register your interest and order a tasting box from No2 Pound Street. Inside, you’ll find a curated selection of cheeses, tasting notes, and access to the virtual event where you can savour, compare, and vote for your favourite. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to celebrate the diversity and excellence of cheese!

Find your perfect cheese at our Great British Cheddar Tasting Event

Cheddar cheese, with its rich history, diverse varieties, and delicious pairings, is a true gem in the world of cheese. Whether you’re a fan of mild, medium, sharp, or vintage, there’s a flavour profile to suit every palate. And with the Great Cheese Challenge, you can become a part of the Cheddar cheese legacy by voting for your top pick. So, embark on a culinary journey through the wonderful world of cheese, and let your taste buds revel in its creamy, tangy, and nutty delights! Register your interest today and get ready to savour the best cheeses the UK has to offer.

Register your interest and purchase your cheese box ahead of our Great British Cheddar Challenge, hosted online on 16th September. Find out more here.