Cheddar is an uncooked pressed cheese made from cow milk, which is raw when made in the artisan tradition. Originating in England, this cheese is now produced in the US, Canada, and even in India. Only certain producers in the county of Somerset, in the south-west of England, are protected by the West Country Farmhouse Cheddar protected designation of origin, which guarantees traditional production. Cheddar that has been matured between 9 and 12 months develops a unique, slightly peppery and salty flavor.
Cheddar cheese marked “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar” is recognizable by its wheel shape and yellow color. Other cheddars are generally sold as blocks with a bright orange color, resulting from the addition of food coloring. These are often made from pasteurized cow milk.
Shredded or grated cheddar cheese is used to make creamy sauces to go with roasted meats. Slices of cheddar are allowed to melt over steaks, which are served in hamburger buns. It can also be used to gratinate.
Eaten sliced, cheddar has a granular texture that is pleasant to the palate. It is enjoyed “English-style” with crackers and apples, or with country-style (farmhouse) bread, or in a salad with endives (chicory), apple, pears, and chopped walnuts.
Cheddar cheese should be carefully wrapped and stored in the dairy compartment or in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Cheddar slices dry out easily and should be eaten quickly.