[Sca-cooks] "Sharp" Cheddar

Kathleen Madsen kmadsen12000 at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 7 10:02:32 PST 2008

Responding to Stefan's somewhat flippant question:

Your question could actually be answered in two ways.

1) If it's a traditional cheddar that's been clothbound and aged then yes, the aging is what makes it sharper.  There are also good quality, brick style cheddars that are aged for years to develop the sharpness and a more complex flavor.  Carr Valley cheese, some of Cabot's cheddars, and Widmer's are all good examples of the latter.

2) If it's a bulk, automated technology that churns out brick after brick of cheddar than no, the aging does not make it sharper.  They typically in these cases add more of the enzyme (rennet) to give it a sharper characteristic on the tongue.  Sometimes with the really sharp ones you get a "sparkle" or bubbly feeling on the tongue, this is caused by the extra enzyme mixing with the moisture on your tongue.  Our tastebuds interpret this as being sharp, when really what it is is a kind of bubbly/drying reaction.  It's cheaper to just add more enzyme than it is to allocate storage space to actually age the cheese on for 2, 3, 5 or 10 years.  Think Tillamook and Lucerne for these.

This would make an interesting side-by-side comparison - and cheddar just loves beer. There you go, instant party!



But this doesn't answer my, somewhat flippant, question. Does aging  
itself make a cheese "sharper"? Is aging required to get a "sharp"  
cheese, whether a cheddar or some other cheese? Does aging a cheese  
always make it sharper?


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