Cheddar cheese is a pale yellow, sharp-tasting cheese originally made in the English village of Cheddar, in Somerset. Cheddar-style cheeses are produced in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia (where it is often called Tasty cheese) and Sweden. Much of this cheese is mass-produced and quality varies enormously. The strong flavor develops over time, with a taste diverse enough that food packaging will usually indicate a strength ("mild" to "strong/sharp/mature"), or the maturation period. A pipe roll of King Henry II records the purchase of 10,420 pounds (avoirdupois pounds and troy pounds did not exist then, probably tower pounds or about 3650 kg) at a farthing per pound (£3 per tonne).
The most widely purchased and eaten cheese in the world. Fully cured Cheddar is a hard, natural cheese. It is shaped like a drum, 15 inches in diameter, with natural rind bound in cloth. Normally, the color of Cheddar ranges from white to pale yellow. Some Cheddars, however, have a color added, giving the cheese a yellow-orange color. Cheddar is always made from cow's milk and has a slightly crumbly texture if properly cured. If the cheese is too young, the texture is smooth. Cheddar gets a sharper taste the longer it matures. It is generally matured between 9 and 24 months. The important thing in purchasing Cheddar, is to consider the age of the cheese. Milk is heated to 86°F and inoculated with a lactic starter culture. After an hour rennet is added. When the curd is firm, it is ground down to marble-sized bits which are heated to 100°F. The whey is discarded and it is sliced into slabs. The curd is pressed overnight and stands for 4 days in a cool atmosphere. Unlike other well known cheeses, Cheddar's name is not protected so it has been used and abused by many producers around the world.