14 Fun Facts About Cheddar

Facts About Cheddar

Cheddar cheese is one of the most popular varieties of cheese worldwide. With its distinctive orange color and rich, tangy flavor, this English cheese has been produced for over 800 years. From its humble beginnings in the village of Cheddar to global fame, cheddar has a fascinating story.

Let’s explore some intriguing facts about this cheese legend:

Fun Facts About Cheddar

Cheddar cheese has a long and captivating history. Its unique production methods give it a characteristic taste and texture. From mild to sharp varieties, cheddar lends itself to many culinary uses.

Fun Facts About Cheddar

1. Cheddar Originates from a Small English Village

Cheddar cheese got its name from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England. Local legend tells that cheddar was discovered by accident when a milkmaid left milk in a cave, which turned into curds and whey. The Cheddar Gorge caves provided ideal conditions for aging the cheese with cool, consistent temperatures.

2. Cheddar Production Uses a Special Step Called “Cheddaring”

What gives cheddar its unique texture is an extra step called “cheddaring.” After heating and cutting the curds, they are stacked and flipped repeatedly. This packs the curds together, resulting in a dense, smooth interior and crumbly, mellow flavor as it ages.

3. The First Record of Cheddar Dates Back 900 Years

Cheddar has a long history in England. The earliest written record dates back to King Henry II buying 10,240 pounds of cheddar in 1170! King Charles I was also known to purchase Somerset cheddar in the 17th century.

4. Ideal Somerset Cheddar Has a “Hazelnut” Flavor

In the 1860s, Joseph Harding described the best Somerset cheddar as “rich with a tendency to melt in the mouth, the flavor full and fine, approaching that of a hazelnut.” This earthy, nutty quality comes from the cow’s grass-based diet in southwest England.

person grating cheese

5. Sharpness Comes from Bitter Peptides

Aged cheddar often has a sharp, pungent bite. This comes from bitter peptides produced as proteins in the cheese break down over time. The longer cheddar ages, the more bitter peptides develop, increasing sharpness.

6. Texture Ranges from Crumbly to Smooth

Cheddar textures range from crumbly or firm to smooth and creamy. Young, mild cheddar is supple and melts easily, while aged extra sharp varieties tend to be drier and more crumbly with crystalline crunchy bits called “tyrosine crystals.”

7. Cheddar is Aged from 1 Month to Over 15 Years

While many cheddars are aged 1-2 years, some are aged much longer. “Vintage” cheddars are specially aged for 15 months to over 15 years! With extensive aging, flavors intensify as the cheese becomes drier and more crumbly.

8. Cheddar Flavor Profiles Vary Around the World

Cheddars made in different countries have distinct flavors. English cheddars tend to be earthier and grassier. American versions have bold, sharp notes. Australian cheddars are smooth and creamy, while New Zealand cheddars are sweet and nutty.

9. White and Colored Cheddars Have the Same Flavor

The natural color of cheddar is off-white. Colored orange cheddar gets its hue from adding annatto seed powder. Despite their color difference, white and orange cheddar taste the same! The color comes from visual preference, not flavor.

10. Cheddar Cheese Must be Made in England

For a cheese to be called “cheddar” it has to be made in Cheddar village, Wells, England, and molded into 40-pound blocks. Outside England, cheese made in the cheddar style is called “American cheddar” or generic “cheddar cheese.”

11. Cheddar is the Most Popular Cheese in the UK and USA

Cheddar accounts for over 50% of the $2 billion UK cheese market. It’s also America’s #1 cheese, comprising nearly 30% of US cheese production. Its global popularity stems from diverse aging and flavors suiting many tastes.

12. The World’s Largest Cheddar Weighed Over 7 Tons!

In 1988, Wisconsin cheesemakers created the largest cheddar cheese wheel ever at 34,591 pounds! Made from 16,000 cows’ milk, the gargantuan golden cheddar stands as a testament to America’s cheesemaking capabilities.

13. Cheddar Keeps Well Without Refrigeration

One reason cheddar became popular worldwide is its longevity. Before refrigeration, hardy cheddar could be transported long distances without spoiling. Even today, properly aged cheddar keeps several months stored in a cool pantry.

14. Cheddar Adds Great Flavor to Many Dishes

Beyond snacking, cheddar brings its tangy umami to many recipes. It shines in classic dishes like grilled cheese, mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, rarebit, soups, sauces, baked dishes, and casseroles. Cheddar’s versatility cements its enduring popularity.

FAQs about Cheddar Cheese

What is the origin of cheddar cheese?

Cheddar cheese originates from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset, England.

How is cheddar cheese made?

During the manufacture of cheddar, the curds and whey are separated using rennet, and then the curd is kneaded with salt, cut into cubes to drain the whey, and then stacked and turned in a process known as “cheddaring.”

What are the different types of cheddar cheese?

Cheddar cheese can be mild, medium, mature, extra mature, or vintage, with varying degrees of sharpness and aging periods.

Are there any protected designations of origin for cheddar cheese?

Yes, “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar” has a protected designation of origin (PDO) registration in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Additionally, “Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar” has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) registration.

Where is cheddar cheese produced?

Cheddar cheese is produced not only in the United Kingdom but also in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and several others, with varying styles and qualities.


With over 800 years of history, cheddar cheese is a culinary icon adored for its range of textures and flavors. Its global fame stems from traditional English roots combined with innovative cheesemaking worldwide.

Beyond its nostalgic appeal, cheddar adds a punch of savory flavor and creamy richness to all kinds of foods. As the world’s most popular cheese, this English original continues to delight cheese aficionados across cultures.

Whether you prefer mild, sharp, crumbly or smooth cheddar, sampling different styles is the best way to appreciate the depth of this cheese. The next time you make a grilled cheese sandwich or baked mac and cheese, reach for tasty cheddar and taste the history!

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