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wheel of cheddar on cutting boardCheddar Cheese

the most widely purchased and eaten cheese in the world

Although its name comes from the village in Somerset, England, where it was first produced over 500 years ago, "cheddar" is not a designation protected by international convention. (By contrast, roquefort cheese can only be so labeled if it was aged in a specific series of caves in Roquefort, France.) In fact, the word "cheddar" is now more commonly used to refer to the pressing process by which the cheese is made. Known as "cheddaring," this process involves stacking slabs of partially drained curd on top of each other and thrn turning and restacking them every 10 to 15 minutes for up to 1-1/2 hours, ensuring that all slabs are evely pressed. This produces a cheese with a smooth, tight texture.

Cheddar can be made from raw or pasteurized cow's milk and can range in texture from semi-hard to hard. Factory-produced cheddar is typically rindless and comes wrapped in plastic or covered with wax; the interior can range from off-white to orange. Traditional (handmade) cheddars have rinds that can range in color from golden brown to grayish brown; the interior varies from ivory to pale yellow. In general, cheddars are labeled with four ripening designations: mild (about 2 to 4 months), medium (4 to 8 months), sharp (9 to 12 months), and extra-sharp (aged over 1 year).

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This page was last updated on 01/16/2016.

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