Cheddar is undoubtedly one of the world's favorite cheeses. It's also the source of a great debate between people who prefer white cheddar vs. orange cheddar cheese. White cheddar champions prefer the natural color of cheddar cheese – imperfections and all. Fans of orange cheddar cheese crave that iconic color that promises the tastebuds a creamy, tangy treat. Of course, when it comes to cheese debates, everyone's a winner as long as there's enough cheese to go around.
Here in Wisconsin, we don't often take sides in the white cheddar vs. orange cheddar debate. In part, that's because we know the flavor is the same with or without the orange coloring provided by annatto, the fruit of the achiote tree. It's also because we don't like to take sides when it comes to cheese – we love all the cheeses made by our 1,200 cheesemakers. But feel free to argue for white cheddar vs. orange cheddar all you want. We'll be happy to listen while we get our fill of both.
With white cheddar vs. orange cheddar cheese, pairing recommendations are essentially the same. The age and sharpness of the cheese is more important than its color.
Mild cheddars can pair with almost anything. With white wine, mild cheddar pairs nicely with chardonnay, pinot gris, or rose. For a nice red wine and cheese pairing, think merlot or pinot noir. In beer, try a frosty pint of American pale lager, IPA, or pilsner.
For aged cheddars, you'll want drinks that complement the piquant flavors of the cheese. An aged cheddar is perfect for a cabernet sauvignon or chianti pairing if you're drinking red wine. For whites, try a riesling, chardonnay, or cava. Malt beverages with a touch of sweetness will pair nicely with an aged cheddar – try a cider, bock, or Belgian ale.
The only difference between white cheddar vs. orange cheddar is the natural vegetable coloring that is used to make orange cheddar. Most orange cheddar cheese today is made with annatto, the seed from the achiote tree of Central and South America.
The color orange has been associated with cheddar cheese for centuries. In 17th-century England, the cheese produced near the town of Cheddar, Somerset, was made with milk that was rich in beta-carotene, producing an orange pigment in the cheese. After the color became associated with high-quality cheddar, cheesemakers began adding orange dye to the cheese to create a consistent color. The practice persists today, as many customers want their cheddars to be orange.
Apart from a cheesemaking apprenticeship, class, or degree, you can learn to make cheddar cheese from instructions on the Internet or in books. The process takes time to perfect, however, and aging cheese for 3 to 24 months requires patience and a certain amount of space. Many amateur cheesemakers prefer to stick with making fresh cheeses they can enjoy right away.
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We don't sweat the white cheddar vs. orange cheddar debate in Wisconsin. We know whatever Wisconsin cheddar we choose, we're in for a flavor adventure. Our cheesemakers work tirelessly to produce the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese on the planet. We have faith that whatever color of cheddar is on our plate, it's going to make our day.
So, next time you're deliberating over white cheddar vs. orange cheddar, as long as you see a Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label, you know you've chosen the better cheddar.
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.