Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. It is the number one choice in Britain ( 51% of Britain) and the number two cheese in the United States after mozzarella. So you can imagine that it comes in all shapes, sizes, and types.
Heck, its color is quite a debate in the world of cheese, since it can be famously orange, yellow, or white. But let’s put aside the shade and origin of it for now. What about aging?
Well, Cheddar is exceptionally famous for its ability to age very, very well. But how do you know what to look for? What kind of texture to look for, where to focus caution etc. Don’t worry; we’re here to help you. Here’s a little guide that we stitched up after doing the research.
First of all, let’s just get a quick history lesson here before we get started. Cheddar comes from Cheddar, Britain, and its creation dates back to the 12th century! There have been many different versions of the classic cheese type in all that time, but there’s one thing that they all have in common. They all age like fine wine.
What to Look For
One of the most important things to look for when looking through a pile of Aged cheddar is, well, the sign of aging. Cheddar ages in a specific way. The texture will go harder as time passes, and the taste will get stronger, but there is one thing that will help you figure out if you’re dealing with a real heavenly slice of Cheddar or a fake – cheese crystals.
Cheese crystals are, yes, crystals; well, they are minerals. The cheese crystals found in Cheddar are called Calcium Lactate crystals, and they are created when the good bacteria in cheese breaks lactose down, leaving lactic acid, which then combines with calcium to create Calcium Lactate crystals. And Cheddar is full of them.
This type of crystal can be found on the inside and out of cheese, they are whole, crunchy, delicious, and they are a heck of an indicator that you have real Cheddar in your hands. Don’t worry though. These crystals won’t affect the taste. They can only make it better. Guaranteed.
You can learn more about the topic on our website as we did a newbie friendly guide to cheese crystals.
Let’s put the crystals to the side for a minute, and talk about taste. There is a simple rule to choosing the right Cheddar age for yourself if you find a room full of orange goodness. Do you like your cheese healthy or mild? Well, if you’re eating Cheddar, chances are you’re digging the intensely savory flavour, but hey, we don’t judge anyone who wants a cheese that’s a bit more on the lighter side. The older the Cheddar, the stronger it is. That’s it. Those are the rules. Simple right?
Just remember that the oldest cheese isn’t always the best one. And more importantly, it isn’t the best one for you. It’s okay if you like fresh cheese. There’s nothing wrong with that. Cheddar is a block of beautiful and harsh flavour that will give you a kick, however old it is.