Cheddar is undoubtedly one of the world's favorite cheeses. Whether it's mild cheddar for mac and cheese or an extra sharp variety on a grilled cheese sandwich, cheddar never fails to deliver the pungent, earthy flavor we all know and love.
So, how is cheddar cheese made? And more importantly, why is it so dang good? In Wisconsin, our cheesemakers will tell you that it's a mix of excellent milk, expert technique, and a process called cheddaring that produces a bevy of award-winning Wisconsin cheddar cheese varieties.
To meet some of the champion cheddars made right here in the State of Cheese, just take a stroll around our website. You'll find lots of cheddar cheese recipes or you can pick up tips on an aged cheddar and merlot pairing or blue cheddar and zinfandel pairing. Or scroll down to learn how cheddar cheese is made in Wisconsin and around the world.
Cheddar cheese is named for Cheddar in Somerset, the area in England where the cheese originated around the 12th century.
Cheddar starts off like nearly every other cheese: cheesemakers add rennet to cow's milk to curdle it and then separate the solid curd from the liquid whey. But after the curd is heated, it goes through a process called cheddaring where the cheese is cut into slabs that are repeatedly stacked atop one another and turned. The cheddaring process removes more moisture, acidifies the curd, and gives the cheese its unique, elastic texture and pungent flavor. The curd is then pressed into molds and left to age. Mild cheddar cheese is generally aged 3 to 6 months, while sharp or extra sharp cheddar may be aged 6 months to 18 months or more.
While there are many variations in the cheesemaking process, cheddar cheese in the US is made in the same way as cheese from England or any other country where cheddar is produced.
Originally, the diet of cows providing the milk for cheddar cheese was rich in beta-carotene which gave the cheese an orange tint, and the color became associated with quality cheddar cheese. Today, cheddar cheese is naturally white or off-white. The only difference between white cheddar vs orange cheddar cheese is that cheesemakers use an additive like annatto to give orange cheddar its color.
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When you want to know how to make cheddar cheese that's among the best stuff on the planet, just ask a Wisconsin cheesemaker. We've been making cheddar cheese for 180 years – since before we were even a state – and today we make as much cheddar as they do in all the United Kingdom, the birthplace of this champion of cheeses.
We're always working to make a better cheddar – our cheesemakers are constantly perfecting old-world recipes and innovating new techniques. From aged cheddar to cheddar-jack and cheddar blue varieties, Wisconsin cheesemakers do more with cheddar than their English counterparts ever dreamed of. This is why we've won so many more awards for our cheddars and other cheeses than any other state or country.
So, next time you're looking for the best cheddar you can lay your hands on, just pick up a chunk with a Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label. That way you know your cheddar cheese is made by the best cheesemakers in the world.
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.