Cheddar is one of the most popular styles of cheese all around the world. However, there are a variety of different types of techniques developed to enhance the flavour and quality of the cheese, for example clothbound. In this article, we look at what is clothbound cheddar, when it was invented and why it is used.
What is Clothbound Cheddar?
Clothbound Cheddar is a technique for aged cheddars after the cheddaring process. Clothbound cheese is a traditional, authentic technique to ensure the loss of moisture to create a full-flavoured, sharp and earthy flavoured cheese. It results in a very dense and crumbly texture. The cloth adds a natural protection, ensuring the cheese can breathe and expel moisture.
What is Cheddaring?
Cheddaring is a long-established technique that gives cheddar cheese its unique texture and flavour. The majority of cheesemakers use the cheddaring technique.
The cheese-making process involves cutting the curds and pressing them together to extract excess whey. Cheddaring takes this process one step further, shaping the curds into ‘loaves’ and stacking them on top of one another. Extra weight removes even more moisture from the cheese. Repeating the process ensure the cheese is left with minimal whey and moisture. This creates a crumbly and dense cheese after maturation.
As is common knowledge, the UK invented cheddar cheese. However, the lines are a little blurred between the UK and the US as to who invented the clothbound technique. New research has shown that it was more than likely the US, who had an abundance of cotton as a natural resource. Therefore it acts as natural protection, ensures rich and developed flavour.
Nonetheless, clothbound cheese is a very expensive technique, it is also very time consuming and labour intensive. Nowadays, cheesemakers who use the clothbound technique are likely to be artisanal producers and make their cheese on a smaller scale. It is also likely the cheesemakers have used very high-quality milk, made from healthier cows. Clothbound cheese is therefore often a little more expensive, to reflect this extra quality and time taken to produce it.
New age cheddar methods may involve a wax rind as opposed to cloth techniques, as this does not have to be monitored as often. Wax fully prevents evaporation, which leads to a more moist, creamier cheese. Naturally, this is much better for the commercial market. However, the flavour will be vastly different, more likely to be buttery, creamy and sweet, and less sharp and bite.
Your choice to purchase clothbound cheese should mainly be influenced by how you prefer the flavour of your cheddar.
Ensure to remove the cloth before eating the cheese!
Great Clothbound Cheddars:
- UK: Montgomery’s Clothbound Cheddar – produced in Somerset
- Australia: Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar – produced in Tasmania
- USA: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar – produced in Vermont