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Cheddar cheese

Pleasantly flavorful, cheddar is a firm cheese with sharp bite and melt-in your mouth crumbly texture. This classic British cheese is one of very versatile cheeses; perfect for a platter as a snacking cheese or for use in cooking.

Cheddar preparation and its use was originated during medieval times, along the southern slopes of Mendip hills, in Somerset county, in South West England. Cow milk, raw or pasteurised, is employed to a larger extent in processing cheddar; however, a small quantities of it also produced by using goat and sheep milk.

farmhouse-cheddar-cheese
Farmhouse cheddar cheese.
Courtesy: rose of academe

Preparation of cheddar cheese:

Cheddar is prepared from cow's milk. Initial step is to curdling the milk, which is essentially complete within 24 h, followed by ripening of the curd to cheese.

To prepare milk curdling, add starter culture to pasteurized milk after heating to 88-90 F in a large container or vat. After about 60 minutes, add rennet or other equivalent curdling agent like vinegar or lemon juice to further set the curd. Allow 30 to 40 minutes to set the curd completely. Gently cut the curd lengthwise with horizontal, followed by vertical wire harps. Allow the curds to heal for 10-15 minutes after cutting. Drain the whey and then allow fusing together of curd into a solid mass.

In the second step, solid mass of curds are cut into squares (loaves) and are stacked to begin the cheddaring process. Curds are stacked to continue developing acidity, until they reach a pH of about 6.4. Again loaves are milled into half inches pieces.

Next, salt is added to the milled curd for flavor and to stop further acid development. In the final step, the salt cured curd is filled in cheese molds and pressed to form blocks of cheddar. Cheddar cheese blocks are then inserted in bags for vacuum packaging. Packaged cheese dispatched in storage for aging.

Final cheddar product should be fine and highly pleasing, be firm and appear solid, smooth, compact, free from undesirable flavors and odors. Cheese made from pasteurized milk takes twice as long as that made from raw milk to develop the same flavor intensity and ripens more slowly than raw milk cheese.

Nutrition facts and Health benefits of Cheddar cheese

  • Cheddar cheese is one of the finest sources of almost all the nutrients including vitamin-B12. 100g cheddar has 403 calories and 33.31g of fat profiles.

  • It is the finest source of dietary calcium and phosphorous in the American diet; and together with vitamin-D, cheese play an important role in the bone strengthening and growth, especially in the children.

  • Cheddar provides high-quality protein that is rich in all essential amino acids needed to growth and development and help stay healthy. 100g cheddar contains 22.87g or about 41% of recommended daily intake of protein.

  • Cheddar contains minimal amount of lactose (0.07 g/oz) making it one of the dietary source calcium for those with lactose intolerance. Almost all the naturally occurring lactose within cow milk is converted into more easily digestible lactic acid during cheese making.

  • Cheddar, being a dairy product, is free of gluten. In gluten-sensitive (Celiac disease) persons, it is another important source of gluten free food items rich in protein, minerals and vitamins.

  • During the ripening process, all the major milk constituents such as lactose, milk lipids and milk proteins, undergo biochemical changes into more easily digestible and health benefiting products.

  • Also, certain volatile flavoring chemical compounds originate while aging as by-products like in cheddar like 2-Isopropyl-3-methoxypyrazine, 3-(Methylthio) propanal, p-Cresol, delta-Dodecalactone, Butanoic acid, Isovaleric acid.. etc, which give characteristic "earthy" flavor and sharp, pungent taste to it.

  • Cheddar is a very good source of fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin A. 100g of aged cheddar contains 1242 IU (41.5% of RDI) of this vitamin.

  • Cheddar is a very concentrated source of minerals, especially calcium (71% of RDI), phosphorus (65% of RDI), zinc (33% of RDI) and magnesium.


See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:
Cheddar cheese, Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 403 Kcal 20%
Carbohydrates 3.37 g 2.6%
Protein 22.87 g 41%
Total Fat 3.25 g 166.5%
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0%
Vitamins
Folates 27 μg 7%
Niacin 0.059 mg 4%
Pyridoxine 0.066 mg 5%
Riboflavin 0.428 mg 33%
Thiamin 0.029 mg 2.5%
Vitamin-A 1242 IU 41%
Vitamin-C 0 mg 0%
Vitamin-D 24 IU 6%
Vitamin-E 0 mg 0%
Vitamin K 2.4 µg 2%
Electrolytes
Sodium 653 mg 43.5%
Potassium 74 mg 1.5%
Minerals
Calcium 710 mg 71%
Copper 0.030 mg 3%
Iron 0.14 mg 2%
Magnesium 27 mg 7%
Manganese 0.027 mg 1%
Phosphorus 455 mg 65%
Zinc 3.64 mg 33%

Buying

Choose cheddar cheese that is neither dried out nor to crumbly. Cheese experts judge the quality of cheddar by certain yardsticks employed while making it; raw cow's milk, pasteurization, cheese cultures used, coating, age, etc.

Varieties of Cheddar differ greatly from each other in terms of both taste and color of cheese produced. Sometimes spices and herbs added to improve flavor, color and shelf-life of cheddar. Common herbs and spices and other flavors added to cheddar include paprika, black peppercorns, caraway, parsley, dill, tarragon, annatto, and sundried tomatoes.

At stores, choose grade AA, highly pleasing cheddar with even color, consistency and a firm rind without any surface cracks. Check for the interior close to the rind and it should not be darker in color. It should not taste spoiled and out of flavor.

English farmhouse cheddar is a countryside cheese made by farmhouse owners who employ ancient traditional techniques. They use their own herd's unpasteurized milk, hand-cheddared, molded in cloth-bound and aged in caves for months to form a natural rind.


Storing

Cheddar is one of the safest cheeses since it is made with the use of starter cultures and at pH values of less han 5.6. According to the researchers at Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin, cheddar will not support growth of L. monocytogenes at 4-30° C after the opening of the packages by consumers.

At home, cheddar will stay well in the fridge for 2 weeks. Remove cheddar from the fridge, at least 30 minutes before eating it, to enjoy its flavor and taste.

Here are some serving tips:

Being a firm cheese, cheddar can withstand higher temperatures in particular when used for topping. It is also used grated in cooking.

Raw milk cheddar made and aged in the traditional way tends to have a sharp, biting flavor, often slightly "earthy".

leek cheddar pasta
Leek & cheddar pasta. Courtesy: Kurt Bauschardt
  • Cheddar complements well with seasonal vegetables and herbs. It best used in soups, appetizers, pastas, pizza, quiches, tarts, and rice dishes like risotto.

  • In appetizer and sweets, it mixes well with breads and can make delicious cakes (cheese cakes) and desserts.

  • Prepare creamy zucchini, potato & cheddar soup seasoned with thyme herb, and cauliflower cheese soup.

  • Prepare apple pie with crusty cheddar cheese for dessert, OR savory new potato, spring onion & Montgomery cheddar quiche.


Safety profile

Cheddar cheese is among high salt and saturated fats containing dairy products. Eat it in moderation.

Cheeses, including cheddar, are high in tyramine content and if a person on Mono-amine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's) medication like Phenelzine (Nardil) consumes cheeses, he may develop a medical emergency condition known as "hypertensive (high blood pressure) crisis" which have symptoms like severe headache, sweating, nosebleeds, fast heartbeat, chest pain, blurring of vision, shortness of breath, and confusion, and should seek immediate medical attention. Aslo, they need to continue following a low-tyramine diet for a few weeks after stopping these medications. (Medical Disclaimer)

Source: Mayo clinic: MAOI's and diet.


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Further Resources:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database. (opens in new window).

  2. West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. (opens in new window).

  3. Cheddar-Grades and Standards. pdf. (opens in new window).




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