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To learn more about photo and article reprints for personal use, please visit store. The term “Cheddar cheese” is widely used, but has no protected designation of origin within the European Union. The cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, south west England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century.
Central to the modernisation and standardisation of Cheddar cheese was the 19th-century Somerset dairyman Joseph Harding. For his technical innovations, promotion of dairy hygiene, and volunteer dissemination of modern cheese-making techniques, he has been dubbed “the father of Cheddar cheese”. During the Second World War, and for nearly a decade after, most milk in Britain was used for the making of one single kind of cheese nicknamed “government Cheddar” as part of war economies and rationing.
According to a United States Department of Agriculture researcher, Cheddar cheese is the world’s most popular variety of cheese, and the most studied type of cheese in scientific publications. Cheddaring” refers to an additional step in the production of Cheddar cheese where, after heating, the curd is kneaded with salt, cut into cubes to drain the whey, and then stacked and turned. Strong, extra-mature Cheddar, sometimes called vintage, needs to be matured for 15 months or more. The cheese is kept at a constant temperature, often requiring special facilities.
Cheddar made in the classical way tends to have a sharp, pungent flavour, often slightly earthy. The “sharpness” of cheddar is associated with the levels of bitter peptides in the cheese. This bitterness has been found to be significant to the overall perception of the aged Cheddar flavour.