Everyone knows that Cheddar is a type of cheese, but what is cheddaring? Cheddaring is a cheesemaking process that cheese must go through to become cheddar. Why? Cheddaring gives the cheese a dense, layered texture.
What Happens During Cheddaring?
After curds form during the cheesemaking process, they are cut up into smaller pieces to expel liquid (whey). The smaller the curds are cut, the more liquid will drain from them. The more liquid that drains from the curds, the firmer the resulting cheese will be.
This step of cutting the curds is used when making almost all types of cheese, but it is taken one step further for cheddar cheese.
To make cheddar, the curds are cut up and then pressed together into slabs. The slabs of curds are stacked on top of each other. The weight of stacking the slabs of curds on top of one another presses out even more moisture. Then the slabs of curds are cut up again, pressed into slabs again and stacked again. This is cheddaring. The process continues until so much whey is expelled that after aging, the cheese will have a crumbly, layered, dense texture.
More About Cheddar
Cheddar cheese was first made in England but is now made pretty much everywhere. Cheddar has a flavor that is different from other types of hard and semi-hard cheeses due to several things—namely, the heating or "cooking" of them, the process of cheddaring, and the aging process. Beyond this, cheddar from different parts of the world tastes different because the flavor of the milk varies, the aging time varies, and the skill level and techniques of the cheesemakers vary.
Types of Cheddar
- Farmhouse Cheddar: Cheddar made in England in the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Devon or Cornwall, although the name "farmhouse" has been co-opted by cheesemakers in other countries, too. The European Union recognized true farmhouse cheddar by awarding it PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status. In addition to being English, true farmhouse cheddar is made entirely on the same farm (from gathering the milk to aging the cheese) and is aged at least 9 months.
- Bandage-Wrapped Cheddar: Cheddar that is wrapped in cheesecloth during the aging process. The cloth protects the outside of the cheese but also allows air in, creating a natural rind beneath the cloth. The cloth becomes thick and fairly hard and usually remains on the cheddar when it is sold.
- Wax-Covered Cheddar: Wax creates an airtight seal that protects the cheese during aging. Wax-covered Cheddar does not have a rind.
- Aged Cheddar: Some cheddar is aged for a few months; some is aged for a few years. The longer the Cheddar is aged, the more intense the flavor becomes.
- Orange Cheddar: The color of orange Cheddar comes from annatto, a vegetable extract derived from achiote seeds