Say Cheese - Cheddar that is!
Cheddar - who doesn't love it? It is as American as apple pie. Ok, maybe it didn't start here, but we sure do love it. Let's talk all things cheddar today shall we?
Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. Believed to be created 8 centuries ago in the English village of...you guessed it Cheddar which is located in Somerset. Farmers there would store their milk in the caves on hot days. There is a tall tale regarding cheddar. It has been told that a milkmaid forgot about a pail of milk in one of the caves. Upon return she discovered the milk had hardened into the perfect gold cheese we love today.
Cheddar village was ideal for the production of cheese is due to the cave complex near the village that had perfect combination of internaltempature and moisture for long-term maturing of hard cheeses.
There are recordings from King Henry II describing the purchase of more than 4.5 tons of cheese.
Let's talk about a man named Jospeh Harding. He introduced new technical and hygienic innovations that made the productino of cheddar much easier. He introduced the rolving breaker for curd cutting
that sped up the cheese making process and promoted cheddar cheese in North America.
There was an explosion of cheddar during WW2 becuase of the need of the English government to stock pile milk. It was trasnformed into "government cheddar" and then rationed. But cheddar is hardly British. British colonists brought their techniques to America and by 1790, they were exporting cheese back to the home country.
Let me introduce you to Joseph Harding, known as the “father of cheddar cheese.” He was an innovator, crafting a curd scalding method to obtain the perfect cheddar texture and he perfected the cheese mill that breaks up curds into tiny pieces which is a key step in making cheddar.
Stateside, the first cheese factory opened for business in upstate New York in 1851 and specialized in, you guessed it, cheddar. Let’s fast forward to a 1916 and talk a childhood staple, Kraft singles. We still classify that as cheese, right? Canadian, James L. Kraft moved to the Windy City to sale cheese wholesale. His goal was to recycle discarded chunks of cheddar so in 1916 he created the recipe for Kraft singles. Here a spoiler, the recipe is repasteurized shredded cheddar and sodium phosphate. Kraft singles became an American staple for US troops during both World Wars.
So, what’s your favorite way to enjoy cheddar? Next, I’m going to tell you mine, particularly my favorite honey's. The great thing about cheddar is it is delicious all by itself. But where’s the fun in that? Let’s spice it up a little. I am a lover of texture and varying the texture to create just the perfect bite. Cheddar is firm, slightly crumbly giving you a plethora of options. At Hive and Honeybee they have Wendell Estates Honey. I mentioned it in my last blog post. If you have read it, head on over there, but finish this one first. Wendell Estates is a soft set honey. Goes into the jar as a liquid then sets up like a creamed honey, no whipping required. The smooth texture of this honey paired with firmness of cheddar, magnificent! Next layer, pears. Pears can vary from a crisp texture when they are fresh to a soft, buttery texture as they ripen. I love both. When pairing take into consideration the taste. Flavors of a fresh pear are tangy almost spicy whereas ripe pears are sweeter.
You know what goes great with cheddar, nuts! And our friends at Hive and Honeybee can deliver. They carry 2 spectacular varieties; a pecan infused and almond infused honey. Pecan infused honey boasts delicious Georgia roasted pecans with wildflower honey from Jacksonville, FL. Almond infused honey has Califronia almonds infused in California wildflower honey. I prefer to serve the block of cheddar with 1 of these delectable honey’s spread out on top with varying fruits to pair with it.
Don’t like sweet options, don’t worry I have you covered. If you prefer savory then cheddar is an easy cheese to pair. Pickled cucumbers top the list for me. Tangy, crunchy and a bit spicy paired with cheddar and you are a snack Queen or King. Like it spicy, try Harissa, a hot chili pepper paste that is made with roasted red peppers.
I can’t leave drinks out. Sometimes you day calls for a simple snack, cheese and wine, right? First choice would be Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is full bodied with fruity undertones. When paired with the sharp nature of cheddar the red wine draws out the bold flavors of cheddar.
Not a fan of wine? Cider it is! Cheddar needs a full bodied, rich cider. There are so many good at the grocery store. I suggest looking for a medium dry cider. One of my favorites is Bold Rock Cidery here is Central Virginia. If pairing with fruit I would suggest the Premium Dry Cider. If going for savory pairings you can add in a little sweetness with the Imperial Cider. Try them all, you won’t be disappointed.
The easy thing about cheddar is you can have cheese, fruit and nuts. You can pair it with a crispy multi-grain cracker and a delectable honey. Or you can just have cheese and honey! The possibilities are whatever your heart desires.
Thank you for joining me this week! I will be highlighting a grocery store next, be on the lookout! Now get out there and elevate your snack game or wow your guests at your next get together!