Description

Prior to 1850, nearly all cheese produced in the United States was Cheddar. Cheddar production in Wisconsin began in the mid-1800s and by 1880, more Cheddar was produced in Wisconsin than any other cheese variety. Today it accounts for a large percentage of the cheese made in the state, making Wisconsin the leader in U.S. Cheddar production. Usually golden but also available in white, Cheddar has a rich, nutty flavor that becomes increasingly sharp with age, and a smooth, firm texture that becomes more granular and crumbly with age.

Appearance

Interior: Usually golden, sometimes creamy white or marbled (combination of golden and white curds) Exterior: Clear suggests mild, red suggests medium, black suggests sharp Traditionally, the color of the exterior wax denotes the flavor or age of the cheese; however, cheesemakers are not bound by law to follow this tradition

Texture

Smooth, firm, becomes more granular and crumbly as it ages

Flavor

Rich, nutty, creamy flavor that becomes increasingly sharp and complex with age

Serving Suggestions

Add Aged Cheddar to cream-based soups or sauces for steamed vegetables and baked dishes. Make a traditional toasted cheese sandwich or top a baked potato. Enhance apple pie by serving it with America's favorite cheese or add shredded Cheddar to the crust.

Goes Well With

Apples, pears, onions, tomatoes Red wines such as Zinfandel or Merlot; pale ales or stout beers

Styles/Varieties

Wisconsin Cheddar can be flavored with ingredients such as hot peppers, vegetables or sausage. Block: 40-pound block, 10-pound print, 5-pound loaf, Random and exact weight in 8-ounce stick or 4-ounce stick Shredded (standard shred, fancy shred, and julienne): 10-pound bag, 5-pound bag, Random- and exact-weight bag Cubed (white, colored, and mixed): 10-pound bag, 5-pound bag Cheddar Curds (white or colored): 1-pound bag, random- and exact-weight bag Naturally bandaged (wax and cheesecloth): 12-pound, Longhorn, 1-pound cylinder (horn), 10-pound Midget, 5-pound Favorite, 3-pound Gem, 35-pound Flat, 22-pound Daisy Mammoths: 75-pound, 150-pound, 300-pound, 500-pound, 1000-pound, 2000-pound

Performance Note

The traditional golden hue of colored Cheddars comes from the addition of annatto, a tasteless, odorless vegetable dye made from the seed of the annatto plant. As Cheddar ages, its texture, flavor and performance change: Mild Cheddar has a firm, elastic texture. It slices, shreds and melts well. Medium Cheddar has a texture that is slightly creamier than mild, with a fuller Cheddar flavor often described as brothy. It slices, shreds, melts and blends well into sauces. Aged Cheddar has a texture both crumbly and creamy, with a flavor often described as beefy. It shreds and melts well. Of all Cheddars, Aged Cheddar also incorporates best in sauce applications. All Cheddar produced in Wisconsin has a grade stamp on the wax, plastic wrap or carton, your assurance of quality. Naturally bandaged Cheddars are wrapped in cheesecloth and dipped in wax. Before vapor barrier film, this method provided the only way to preserve Cheddar cheese for storage and shipping. The best tool for cutting blocks of Cheddar is a stationary wire platform cutter or fish line cutter. A double-handled cheese knife or a chef's knife works best for smaller pieces.

  Cold Surface Broil Oven (in recipe) Oven (surface) Direct Heat (in suspension)
Sliced
Cubed
Shaved
Shredded
Grated
Crumbled
Spooned/Spread