Aged cheddar is a cheese that can truly take center stage. Like an entertainer in their prime, aged cheddar is the hit of any party, with a personality that grows bigger and more enthralling with each passing year. Its crystalline cracks and drier, flakier texture are packed with complex, tangy flavor. Leave the melting, gooey dishes to younger cheeses – aged cheddar has earned the right to stand on its own with breads, pastas, and the big flavors of a charcuterie board. Here's to you, aged cheddar: long may you live and reign delicious.
Aged cheddar's bold tangy flavor pairs well with the sticky sweetness of honey, chutney, or homemade jam. Sweet pickles or pickled beets can spice it up as well, adding tartness to aged cheddar's thick texture. Hearty soups, warm grain dishes, or peppery green salads can also hold their own with aged cheddar.
For libations, you want a drink that can match aged cheddar's flavor and texture but not overpower it. We suggest:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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When it comes to aged cheddar and almost every other kind of cheese, Wisconsin is all in. We've been making cheese for more than 175 years, which explains why were so dang good at it. In fact, most people are surprised to learn we've won more awards for our cheese than any other state or country in the world – it's just not our way to be braggadocious about it. We're also the only state where cheesemakers must have a license and serve as an apprentice with a pro. We also have the only Master Cheesemaker program in the world outside Switzerland. Who knew, right?
Yep, Wisconsin is pretty much cheese heaven. That's what happens when a whole state and an entire industry puts their collective talent and brainpower behind a single purpose: to make the tastiest, best cheese in the universe with the widest assortment of varieties. We don't say "we dream in cheese" for nothing!
Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?
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In Wisconsin, we make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than anywhere else in the world. We believe in tradition, producing everything from Italian classics, like parmesan and ricotta, to swiss cheese and cheddar varieties. But every Wisconsin cheesemaker is an innovator as well, which is why we have so many Wisconsin originals, like colby and muenster. Whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, potatoes au gratin, or a charcuterie board, Wisconsin cheese makes every dish and recipe tastier.