Cheese Aging

The cheddar-making process starts the same way as most other cheeses, starter bacteria is added to acidify the milk and once enough acid is developed, rennet is added and milk forms curds. The whey is drained out to leave behind more condensed curds. The thickened curds are then heated to release more whey and melt together.

The curds are then folded into large slabs, piled together and flipped over many times, getting denser and releasing more whey. Finally the cheddar is pressed into molds to further drain and age.

Cheddar is then stored and aged under very controlled conditions, the most important being temperature and humidity. The tradition is to store and age cheese in cheese caves, but today it is often aged in a well ventilated aging room with consistent low air flow.

As cheddar ages, it goes from mild to sharp, developing a tangier taste as the microbes and enzymes transform texture and intensify flavor. This transformation is largely a result of the breakdown of proteins and milk fat giving aged Cheddar cheese crystals.