What is aged cheddar cheese?
Aged cheddar is a type of dense, solid cow's milk cheese with a flaky texture and complex flavor that becomes more intense as it ages. The term "cheddar" refers both to the cheese type, to the origin of cheddar cheese – in Cheddar on Somerset in the southwest of England – and to the process of creating cheddar cheese.
Why is cheddar aged?
The aging process adds additional flavor, giving aged cheese a sharper, tangier taste. As the cheese ages, microbes and enzymes intensify the flavor and give aged cheddar its unique crystalline texture as proteins and milk fat breakdown.
How is aged cheddar made?
Making cheddar cheese involves the same initial steps of separating curds and whey with rennet. It's the later steps in the process that give cheddar its distinctive flavor and appearance. The curd is kneaded with salt, cut it into cubes to drain the whey and then repeatedly stacked and turned to make it denser, releasing more whey, acidifying the curd and giving the cheese its unique texture and flavor. Finally, the cheese is pressed into molds for further drainage and aging. The process outlined above is called cheddaring, and takes a very long time to refine and master.
How long is cheddar aged?
The average aged cheddar is aged from 12 to 18 months, though some cheddars are aged up to six years or longer. As it's aged, cheddar must be kept at a constant temperature, which is why cheddar was often traditionally stored in caves. In Wisconsin, some cheddar cheeses are aged up to 20 years. We are happy to say, that Wisconsin is one of the only places in the world where this happens!
Why is aged cheddar yellow?
Cheddar cheese is naturally white to light yellow in color. The darker color of many aged cheddars is the result of a coloring additive called annatto, an extract of the achiote tree. The annatto seed, is a natural coloring agent, and has no artificial additives.