11 June 2007

cheddar - right back to the farm

In the fromage world, cheddar commands one of the heftiest purviews and may well be the most popular cheese. It spans the Kraft slices that end up on your burger to exotic English variants in snooty parlors. To understand fromage, we must begin to understand cheddar.
From a technical vantage point, cheddar is easy to summarize. A cow's milk cheese, cheddar is not named for the region of origin, but for an additional processing called "cheddaring". After the whey is drained from the curds, the blocks of cheese are turned and stacked to give cheddar is unique texture. The flavor of a cheddar should improve with age - so the older the better. You can make a good guess of a cheddar's origin based on the color. English cheddars are always their natural beige, Wisconsin cheddars have a distinctive orange color, and Vermont's are often very white.
From a gustatory vantage point, cheddar is an entirely different story. With such a long history and popularity, one cannot make blanket statements about this cheese. In particular, the availability of small production American cheddars and English Farm House cheddars provide an opportunity to experience the range of this venerable cheese.
In order to tame cheddar, the fromage du mois tasting plan was simply: pick a few cheddars and compare contrast. See the comments for details!

From Jenkins: "Cheese Precept 8 - The harder the cheese, the longer it will stay fresh."