Ah, yes, the lovely cheddar.  Basic, and yet sublime.  Mild, I will confess, doesn’t do much for me – the sharper the better.  Sharpness corresponds with the age of the cheese and thus, the sharper the cheese, the more expensive it is because you are paying for it having sat at a proper-temperature aging nicely to provide the  appropriate level of bite.  Just like older wines, barring some severe fluctuation in the desirability of a particular year’s offering, older wine of a particular label, varietal, etc. will cost more than the newest of the same label and varietal because you are paying for time.

Like wine, cheese can have vintages, with variations in flavor depending on what the cows were eating when they produced the milk.

Cheddar is widely available today, although much of it is bland supermarket fluff.  Smaller producers of cheddar, such as this one, in Grafton, VT, produce a better, more flavorable product.  The original Cheddar, from Cheddar, England, was in such demand in Elizabethan times that it was bought before it was finished aging.

If you don’t want to bother with small producers or pay shipping costs – there are dozens if you look up cheddar on the internets – you might talk to your local cheese shop. Ours here, for example, buys relatively young cheddar in bulk from Vermont (it might even be Grafton, I should ask) and then ages it in its own warehouse.  So we can get 5-10 year old cheddar at less cost than buying a small sliver from a smaller producer.  In my book, the taste is excellent.  And if you do buy the basic cheddar from the grocery store, go for the extra sharp.

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