Cheddar cheese is the most well-known and popular cheeses across the world, primarily in the UK, America and Australia. There are a variety of cheddar types, each one boasting a different texture and flavour profile. In this article, we look at the different types of cheddar.
What are the Different Types of Cheddar?
The type of cheddar you are eating is dependent on how long the cheese has been matured. For example, mature a very mild cheddar for 1-3 months. In contrast, mature a vintage cheddar for anywhere between 12 and 24 months. The flavour profile will also vary vastly, for mild cheddars will be buttery and sweet, whereas vintage cheddar will be more sharp and salty.
Where was Cheddar Invented?
Traditional cheddar is always made from cows milk and in the UK. Invented during the 12th Century in the town of Cheddar in Somerset, it quickly became popular all over the UK. When making cheddar, cheese makers use a unique process called cheddaring. Cheese makers stack blocks of curd on top of each other, to expel as much whey (moisture) as possible. Repeating this process several times so the curds become harder.
Mild cheddar matures for 1 to 3 months. Young cheddars are ideal for slicing, grating and melting. This is because they do still have some moisture and water between the proteins, which allow it to keep its shape if required, or liquefy if the cheese is heated.
Mild cheddar is off-white, however, it has a buttery, creamy, grassy and sweet flavour.
A semi-mature cheddar matures for 3 to 6 months. This has a stronger developed flavour than mild cheddar. This is the most common type of cheddar that can be found in supermarkets. It is also suitable for grating and slicing or melting.
Mature cheddar increases the intensity of the flavours. This type of cheddar is matured for 6 months to 1 year. Perhaps more commonly known as ‘Tasty’ cheddar, this cheddar is a little crumbly in texture, saltier in flavour, which lingers on the palette on the finish. As well as this, mature cheddars are often drier in texture and will be a darker yellow.
Vintage cheddars are the strongest of the cheddar varieties and are a minimum of 12 months up to 2 years old. They are very crumbly, bitey and sharp in flavour, and even saltier. Vintage cheddars are great on a cheeseboard, as they will fall apart into smaller pieces.
Vintage cheddars may also have protein crystallisations, which develop during the maturation process and give a salt-like texture.
Processed cheddars are made with a variety of other ingredients, usually 60% cheddar, 40% other ingredients. A common ingredient used is salt. Also, processed cheddar is pasteurised, which involves cooking the curds at very high temperatures. Pasteurising as well as adding additional ingredients prevents the cheese from ripening further and increases its shelf life.
There are different methods used to create the rind of the cheese, and each method will alter the flavour and texture.
Young, mild cheddars are often rindless. This is because the air does not reach the cheese to dry it out and create a natural rind, as the cheese is not matured for long enough. Mild and processed cheese are often vacuum-sealed after maturation, to prevent the air-drying the cheese and any further moisture to expel.
Matured and vintage cheddars are often covered in a wax or cloth rind. Similarly, this helps to protect the cheese and stop any more moisture from escaping. Since these cheeses are already dry and crumbly, the extra protection helps the cheese to keep its shape.
Cloth rinds can also add a natural, earthy flavour to the cheddar.
Remove the wax and cloth rinds before eating the cheese, they are not edible!