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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Cheddaring the Cheese in Cheddar

Cheddaring is a cheese making process, while Cheddar is the cheese, a town, a gorge and a man.


Cheddar is a large village and civil parish in the Sedgemoor district of the English county of Somerset. It is situated on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. Cheddar Gorge, on the northern edge of the village, is the largest gorge in the United Kingdom and includes several show caves, including Gough's Cave. The gorge has been a centre of human settlement since Neolithic times including a Saxon palace. It has a temperate climate and provides a unique geological and biological environment that has been recognised by the designation of several Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It is also the site of several limestone quarries. The village gave its name to Cheddar cheese.

The name Cheddar comes from the Old English word ceodor, meaning deep dark cavity or pouch.


There is evidence of occupation from the Neolithic period in Cheddar. Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, estimated to be 9,000 years old, was found in Cheddar Gorge in 1903. In 1997, scientists were able to sequence DNA extracted from one of the Cheddar Man’s molars, and astonishingly were able to find two people living in the village that shared the same DNA as him, making the Cheddar Man a very distant ancestor!


The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is the only company to make Cheddar in Cheddar.


We join the process after the milk has been separated into curds and whey and the whey has been drawn off. This leaves behind the milk solids which make the cheese. It is what happens next which determines what type of cheese you end up with and many different traditional processes yield many different traditional types of cheese from hard to soft, dry to washed rind, young to mature.


In the Cheddar making procedure, most of the moisture is drawn off in a draining and pressing process. This involves cutting the compressed curd into ever smaller pieces. This releases more and more liquid.

A giant wheel of cheddar cheese was presented to Queen Victoria of England for a wedding gift back in 1840. It weighed over one thousand pounds.

In 2015, around 3.4 billion pounds of cheddar cheese were produced in the United States alone.

The caves at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, England are a constant temperature of 7 degrees, providing the optimum temperature for the cheese to mature – and it still does so to this day. This cheese meister Luke.

Originally, in order to claim the name cheddar, the cheese had to be crafted within 30 miles of Wells Cathedral, Somerset in England.

In 1901, Scott of the Antarctic took 3,500lbs of cheddar (made in Cheddar itself) on his famous expedition.

Due to rationing during the Second World War, and for almost ten years after, most milk in Britain was used for making a single type of cheese – ‘Government Cheddar’ – which resulted in almost wiping out all other cheese production in the country.


The curd is being cut yet again.

For the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, Wisconsin created a 34,951lbs cheddar cheese from the milk of 16,000 cows.


Now the smaller pieces have the salt added. Salt is added for flavour, to increase moisture loss and also for preservation.

Eating cheese late at night, the rumour goes, will give you strange dreams. As far back as 1964, a researcher noted that a patient stopped having nightmares when he dropped his habit of eating one or two ounces of cheddar cheese every evening.

More recently, the now-defunct British Cheese Board, who funded a study in 2005 and concluded that eating blue cheese causes vivid dreams, while cheddar makes people dream about celebrities.


Now those smaller pieces are milled into crumbs.

Despite the fact that most people prefer their cheddar to be aged for a year and a half or less, there was recently some cheddar that was 40 years old. This was not intentional however; it was a lucky accident. Ed Zahn had made the cheese years ago when he was still working in an old cheese manufacturer in Oconto, Wisconsin and when he went back in 2012 he found this batch in the back of a cooler. Some people said that this cheese was so old it was barely edible due to the sharp flavour but it was such a rarity to find a cheddar aged for so long that it sold out quickly.

Cheddar is made in at least 14 countries worldwide.


At this stage any added ingredients can be mixed in. In this case garlic and chives are added and tossed by hand.


The curd is then placed in metal drums where it is put under pressure. When removed the cheese is in the traditional truckle shape, wrapped in cheese cloth.


The cheese can be matured in different ways and is a complex process. It is the cutting of the curd into smaller and smaller pieces and the stacking of those slabs to drain out the whey that constitutes the Cheddaring process.

Mac'n'Cheese is said to be the most popular cheese recipe.

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6 Comments


David Nurse
David Nurse
Jun 09, 2022

When thoughtfully selecting cheese, I look for lots of different cheeses. I will try any that I have not tried before and rarely come across one that I don't like. On these occasions I would not even give Cheddar a second thought but, when selecting an "everyday" cheese it's always Cheddar that get in the basket. It so versatile tasty and uncomplicated. It goes with everything and will, on most occasions, be a good substitute for the one the recipe recommends. A king amongst cheeses. Loved the post!

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Jun 09, 2022
Replying to

Nothing much beats a mature cheddar. A mature Red Fox from either Aldi or Lidl comes close though.🙂

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John Durham
John Durham
Jun 03, 2022

I, too, love some good, sharp cheddar. Seeing the amount of handcrafting that goes into this process is quite eye opening. It's also pain inducing, after two back surgeries, to watch that man bending over the vats of curds, mixing them by hand. The real question is how much cheese did you take with you, Gethin?😁

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Jun 04, 2022
Replying to

We opted for a couple of packs of the vintage, the really tangy stuff.

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Unknown member
May 28, 2022

I drooled through the whole post. I love cheese and cheddar is on top of the list BUT I am more into white cheddar hence obviously not the "real" cheddar from Cheddar 😉

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Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
Jun 04, 2022
Replying to

You can't beat an 18 month matured farmhouse, sometimes they even have a bit of blue running through.

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