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Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses. The mere mention of the name can bring many cheese lovers to salivate. So cheddar is cheddar, right? Definitely not! Cheddar is made in just about every English-speaking country and just as different countries have different accents, so they make different cheddar. Some are much better than others! We happily bring you one of the best.
Your English Cheddar is an authentic farmhouse cheddar from Denhay Farms which was incorporated in 1952 on 250 acres of land. Today, Denhay has 1,650 acres with 1,000 cows in five herds. According to their published information, the Farm is based in the mild climate of the Marshwood Vale, three miles from the sea immediately inland from Lyme Bay. It ranges from 200 ft. to 750 ft. above sea level and has an average rainfall of 36 inches a year—ideal grass and maize growing conditions. Denhay uses only their own milk to make their cheeses. They are passionate about the quality of their products, which have been recognized with all the UK's top food awards.
The aroma of authentic farmhouse cheddar should be nutty or grassy, with a rich texture and complex flavors ranging from fruity to a woody oakiness. Factory processed cheddar is usually rubbery and dense and without the few cracks you will find in your Denhay farmhouse cheddar which can range in color from straw yellow to beige.
There are two theories on how Cheddar got its name. The first is that it is named after the English town Cheddar in southwestern England, where the cheese was first made. The other theory is that the name derives from one of the steps in the cheese-making process. After the cow's milk curd is scalded twice, it is "cheddared" by repeatedly being cut up to remove whey and breaking the curd until it is smooth and silky.
We love English Cheddar for its buttery, nutty richness, without the slightest hint of bitterness or bite. This richness and creaminess can in part be attributed to the Brown Swiss cow's milk from which English Cheddar is made. This breed is renowned for having the perfect fat-to-protein ratio, which results in a fantastically, full-flavored cheddar.
The flavor of Cheddar is often described as "sharp," which is a direct relation to the acidity level. The higher it is, the sharper the cheese tastes. It is very easy to put this "sharpness" into cheese, and it actually kills other flavors. So what most farmhouse cheddar makers strive for is a breadth of flavors that develop with time. You'll know great cheddar if you can still taste the sweet nuttiness several minutes after you have finished your first mouthful.
Cheddar can be paired wonderfully with dark beer. MonthlyClubs.com offers excellent domestic and international selections through The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. Check it out at www.beermonthclub.com.
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