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White Cheddar, sometimes generically referred to as Vermont Cheddar regardless of its origin, is the original color and form of traditional cheddar. Many connoisseurs claim that White Cheddar is slightly sharper than orange cheddar, but that is more dependent on aging than color.
Cheddar, made in the classical way, tends to have a sharp, pungent flavor, often slightly earthy. Its texture is firm, with farmhouse traditional Cheddar being slightly crumbly. The ideal quality of Cheddar was described by Joseph Harding in 1864 as “close and firm in texture, yet mellow in character or quality; it is rich with a tendency to melt in the mouth, the flavor full and fine, approaching to that of a hazelnut.”
“Cheddaring” refers to an additional step in the production of Cheddar cheese where, after heating, the curd is kneaded with salt, then is cut into cubes to drain the whey, then stacked and turned.
History of White Cheddar
Cheddar cheese has been produced in England since at least 1170. A pipe roll of King Henry II from that year records the purchase of 10,420 lb. at a farthing per pound. One suggestion is that Romans brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France, where it was adapted.
Central to the modernization and standardization of Cheddar was the nineteenth century Somerset dairyman Joseph Harding. For his technical developments, promotion of dairy hygiene and unremunerated propagation of modern cheese-making techniques he has been described as the father of Cheddar.
Wine Pairing for White Cheddar
The sharp and pungent flavor of Cheddar pairs well with Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot red wines. White wine lovers can enjoy Riesling, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc with their Cheddar. The most sophisticated palates will pair their Cheddar with fine Port, Madeira, or Brandy. Cheddar also pairs well with Pale Ale, Porter, or Stout for beer aficionados, and even ciders and fruit beers for those with a more delicate palate. It can even be enjoyed with good Scotch.