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A Complete Guide to Aged Cheddar Cheeses

by Cheese Brothers July 19, 2022 4 min read

A Complete Guide to Aged Cheddar Cheeses

From grilled cheese sandwiches to Tuesday night tacos, cheddar cheese makes everything taste better. Learn more about vintage and aged cheddar at every stage — and where to order quality blocks of cheese that have been aged for up to 15 years.

Aptly named, cheddar cheese is a cow’s milk cheese that originated from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England. It has a nutty flavor and a firm texture. Cheddar cheese is made with the same ingredients as other cheeses, but what sets it apart is its curing process, called cheddaring. After the liquid is strained from the curds, cheesemakers cut the curd into large slabs, stack the slabs up and flip them regularly to release even more liquid. The dense curd is pressed into molds and aged to perfection. While young cheddar is readily available at the supermarket and has a mild flavor, cheddar cheese gets sharper and tastier as it cures.

The production of cheddar cheese put the state of Wisconsin on the map. The state’s fertile grasslands were ideal for dairy farms, and farmers made cheese to use up excess milk before it spoiled, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Wisconsin’s weather also provided an ideal environment for making cheese. In 2021, cheesemakers in the United States produced 3.93 billion pounds of cheddar.

At Cheese Brothers, we have a rich history of cheese making and specialize in offering high-quality cheddar cheeses. Our Barron, Wisconsin-based company offers homemade Wisconsin cheeses and specialty products for purchase on our website, as well as a subscription-based service for loyal customers.

We were founded by Gene Graf and Eric Ludy in 2015. Ludy comes from a long line of cheesemakers. His grandfather started the family’s first cheese factory in Wisconsin in 1919. After gaining a reputation for selling quality cheese at street fairs and a retail shop in the Mall of America, the pair decided to focus solely on eCommerce sales following the pandemic outbreak. Our subscription customers can build their box of cheese and pick an order frequency for regular cheese delivery.

Main Types of Cheddar

To understand the type of cheddar you need for any occasion we think it’s important to learn about the different varieties. Fortunately, there are different types of cheddar to suit both your taste buds and your budget. Here are the four main types of cheddar.

 

  • Mild Cheddar.This popular type of cheddar cheese is aged for one to three months before it is ready to eat and has a modest price tag. Mild cheddar is creamy and melts easily. Its high moisture content makes it a great choice for shredding or adding to casseroles, like the Midwest’s famous Tater Tot hotdish.

  • Sharp Cheddar.Cheese lovers need to wait three to six months before tasting this slightly tangy cheddar.

  • Extra Sharp Cheddar.Aged six to 12 months, extra sharp cheddar has a strong flavor. Cheese loses moisture as it ages. Extra sharp cheddar has a higher melting point than younger options and is ever so slightly crumbly. Both sharp and extra sharp cheddar are great for discerning foodies who want a flavorful option that still melts easily. At Cheese Brothers, we like to use sharp and extra sharp cheddar to top our burgers or star in a homemade bowl of macaroni and cheese.

  • Vintage Cheddar.The Cadillac of cheddar cheeses is vintage or mature cheddar and is any cheddar aged more than 12 months. A vintage cheddar takes center stage on a charcuterie platter because of its sharp flavor and tang. Vintage cheddar can be used for cooking to add a rich flavor but is best munched on by itself. The microbes and enzymes in vintage cheddar start to break down as the cheese ages, giving it a crystalline texture. Aging the cheddar at a consistent temperature is key to achieving the desired texture.

Cheese Brothers offers several types of aged cheddar, including options aged up to 15 years. Customers can expect rich, complex flavors from our 15-year-aged cheddar, along with pockets of crystalized proteins formed during the years of patient curing.

Different Styles of Cheddar

Cheddar cheese is typically aged in vacuum-sealed bags and is rindless. Dubbed block cheddar, it is a popular choice because it is easy to package and store. Some cheesemakers wrap their cheddar in a cheesecloth for aging and to protect it from the elements. Cheddar cheese was commonly placed in caves to age because of the low and stable temperature. Some cheesemakers use wax to protect the cheddar and give it a distinct flavor.

Does Color Matter?

Cheddar cheese can be either white or orange. It may surprise people to learn that orange cheddar is dyed with annatto, an all-natural food coloring. The dye comes from theachiote tree, and orange cheddar tastes the same as its lighter counterpart. Cheesemakers started final cheddar orange for consistency and to increase its value. According to reports, orange cheese was considered higher quality by foodies in the 17th century. Cheesemakers responded by naturally dyeing the cheese to increase its appeal.

The New Frontier: Flavored Cheddar

Cheesemakers are starting to explore flavoring cheddar cheese to make exciting new varieties. Cheese Brothers offers many varieties of flavored cheddar, such as smoked, horseradish, and green onion.

Where to Shop for Cheddar

If you’re wondering how to get your hands on some tasty cheddar cheese, the answer is at your fingertips. The entire line of Cheese Brothers fare can be purchased online and delivered to your home in time for your next wine and cheese party or late-night craving.

To browse our lineup of artisan cheese, visit Cheese Brothers to shop aged cheeses.

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