How is Cheddar Cheese Made?

slices of cheddar cheese

Whether mild, sharp, or extra sharp, cheddar cheese is one of the world’s most popular cheeses. It’s the perfect topping for meat and pasta dishes, and it’s eaten as a standalone snack! When it comes to health benefits, cheddar has a lot to offer. But how is cheddar cheese made? If you’re new to cheesemaking, this article walks you through the ingredients and steps of making delicious cheddar. 

What is Cheddar Cheese Made Of?

Cheddar cheese is produced from pasteurized cow’s milk, bacteria cultures (predominantly lactic acid bacteria which decrease pH, affecting cheese quality and composition), salt, and rennet [*][*]. You’ve probably heard of rennet, an enzyme sourced from plants, animals, or through fermentation, that allows for coagulation to occur. It isolates the solid curds from the whey to produce a high yield of cheese. 

Keep in mind that processed cheese is different from 100% real cheese in that processed versions contain additional ingredients. Examples are food dyes, vegetable oils, emulsifiers, and preservatives. These ingredients alter the texture and flavor of cheddar, making it last longer and tastier for consumers. 

But, at the end of the day, real cheddar cheese is better because it’s naturally low in carbs and contains fewer calories than processed cheese. 

How is Cheddar Cheese Made?

Making cheddar cheese starts with sourcing raw milk. The milk is then placed in vats and then heated to 140 to 145°F. Next, cheesemakers add starter cultures, which allow for lactic acid production to take place at a controlled rate [*]. 

After leaving the milk undisturbed, the next step would be to add rennet to curdle the milk. As mentioned previously, rennet can be animal-based or plant-based. When making cheddar cheese at home, remember to dilute the rennet in non-chlorinated water to ensure even distribution in the milk. Also, remember to add the rennet only after the milk has ripened.

When solid curds form (as the result of adding the rennet), they go through a process called cheddaring. It involves cutting the curds into smaller pieces and stacking them to press out the liquid whey. During this process, cheesemakers carefully monitor the acidity and temperature of the curds. Cheddaring is what gives cheddar cheese the distinct taste and texture we all love. 

Finally, the curds are salted and then pressed into molds where they mature in flavor. Older or aged cheddar cheeses have a more pronounced and sharper taste while young cheddar is mild and creamy. 

Where is Cheddar Cheese Made From?

Cheddar cheese dates back to the 12th century in Somerset, England, where it originated. Cheddar, the village it was named after, has caves that farmers took advantage of to keep the milk cool. But nowadays, cheddar cheese is being made worldwide. Aside from England, it’s produced in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland [*]. 

FAQs

Learn more about cheddar cheesemaking and other relevant information below. 

Is cheddar cheese healthy?

Yes, natural cheddar cheese is a good source of nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, zinc, and phosphorus. It’s also one of the best cheese snacks that boost satiety and support healthy weight loss. 

Why is cheddar cheese orange?

The reason why cheddar cheese is orange is because of annatto, an orange-red food coloring sourced from the seeds of the achiote tree [*]. Some people don’t bother using annatto when making cheese at home while others do to make cheddar look more attractive. As for the flavor, annatto doesn’t change it. Cheddar will taste the same whether you add annatto or not. 

How is cheddar cheese made in England vs. other countries?

Although cheddar can slightly vary in terms of the shapes, textures, and colors produced worldwide, the process of making it is generally the same. You may also hear people claiming that cheddar from England has a more complex flavor and aroma due to the environment in which the cheese is matured — in caves. 

Summary 

The process of making cheddar is straightforward, from heating cow’s milk to cheddaring and leaving the curds to mature. You’ll probably encounter challenges when learning how to make cheese as a beginner, but the experience will be worth it. 

Also, don’t miss out on ready-to-eat cheddar cheese snacks at Käze! They’re made from real cheddar. Keep your pantry well-stocked with our classic cheddar flavor, keto medley (cheddar + nuts), and flavor fusions!

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