Ever wondered how to make cheddar cheese? You're not alone. Anyone who enjoys the sharp flavor of cheddar has pondered how cheesemakers can turn milk and salt into something so perfectly pungent.
In Wisconsin, our cheesemakers know how to make cheddar cheese that satisfies the cravings of cheese lovers while winning beaucoup awards. For 180 years, they've been focused on how to make cheddar cheese in the old-fashioned way while inventing new hybrids like cheddar blue and cheddar jack, with flavored and rubbed cheddars to boot.
Wander through our website to meet some of Wisconsin's finest cheddars or to pick up tips on a cheddar cheese and merlot or zinfandel pairing. Search our recipes to learn how to make cheddar cheese balls or how to make cheddar cheese soup. Or scroll down for the 411 on how cheddar cheese is made in Wisconsin and around the world.
Cheddar cheese is made with the same ingredients as most other cheeses – milk, salt, rennet, and a bacteria culture. The bacteria is added to cow's milk to acidify it and the rennet is added to curdle it. The curds are strained to separate the liquid whey, then heated to release more whey as the curd melts together. At this point, a process called cheddaring begins that distinguishes cheddar cheese from other varieties. The cheesemakers cut the curd into large blocks or slabs, stacking them and flipping them many times to release more whey and make the curd denser. The slabs are eventually milled into smaller pieces of curd and salted, then pressed into molds for draining and aging. Mild cheddar cheese is aged 3 to 6 months. Sharp cheddar is aged 9 to 12 months, and extra sharp cheddar cheese is aged up to 18 months or longer.
Regardless of where it is produced, all cheddar cheese is made with the same cheddaring process, though the smaller details may change from one cheesemaker to another.
Cheesemakers create orange cheddar cheese by adding a flavorless dye like annatto, a food coloring made from the seeds of the achiote tree. This added dye is the only difference between white cheddar vs orange cheddar.
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In Wisconsin, our cheesemakers know not only how to make cheddar cheese, but how to win cheese championships. In fact, they've taken home more awards for their cheese – 5,552 and counting – than any other state in America and any other country in the world.
Of course, that's exactly what you'd expect from a state where everyone is focused on doing one thing best: making the tastiest, highest-quality cheese in the universe. That's why 9 out of every 10 gallons of milk produced in Wisconsin winds up as Wisconsin Cheese. And it's why we make more flavors, styles, and varieties of cheese than anywhere else in the world.
So, do our cheesemakers know how to make cheddar cheese? Boy, do they ever. Just look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on your next chunk of cheddar. That's when you know the cheese in your hand is some of the best this world has to offer.
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.