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In defence of cheddar cheese

(79 Posts)
giulia Sun 17-Nov-19 08:12:05

Living out of the UK, a good piece of Cheddar is one of the things I miss most.

My kind butcher/delicatessen, at my request, has brought some into his shop (E32/kg my dears!). It is an award-winning west country variety and is almost orange.

Hence my problem: my Italian family and friends refuse to taste it. They say it must contain food colouring to be that colour! I am sure this is not so but it is true that all Italian/French cheeses are all pale.

I read somewhere that it is carotene which causes the colour but surely the cows don't eat carrots!

If I remember rightly, Leicester cheese is almost red.

How do I explain this orange colouring?

Ps: I saw some sliced, packaged "cheddar" here in a supermarket - it was made in Belgium!

Whitewavemark2 Sun 17-Nov-19 08:15:49

Just googled it.

The colour comes from a seed from a tree grown in Mexico.


Yorksherlass Sun 17-Nov-19 08:18:00

Me too,

MawB Sun 17-Nov-19 08:21:31

Paws cousin Jamie makes the incomparable Montgomery’s Cheddar which is not red.
A story I liked was that pieces of cheddar would be sold on the WI stall at the nearby farmers market and any that were not considered good enough, went to Tesco as Tesco’s Finest.

DanniRae Sun 17-Nov-19 08:22:48

I wouldn't worry about your family and friends trying it - I'd keep it all to myself!! grin

MaizieD Sun 17-Nov-19 08:34:39

I've never understood why Cheddar had to be coloured orange, a completely unneccssary addition which does nothing at all to the taste.

I'd just eat that one yourself and ask your lovely butcher to get some undyed Cheddar next time.

Urmstongran Sun 17-Nov-19 09:31:32

That made me smile Maw

Paperbackwriter Sun 17-Nov-19 09:38:52

How strange - I don't think I've ever seen orange Cheddar! My favourite hard cheese is Yarg, which is made by a friend of mine. She was awarded an MBE recently for 'services to cheese'.

Happygirl79 Sun 17-Nov-19 09:39:16

I am a cheesaholic
Any cheese
Any time
I don't think cheddar is dyed at all
Its orange because of the ingredients

4allweknow Sun 17-Nov-19 10:02:21

Keep it for yourself sure it can be frozen. Personally I won't touch the coloured cheddar either,always the white one for me, and has to be very mature.

tanith Sun 17-Nov-19 10:11:14

I’ve never seen orange Cheddar either, it’s pale and very mature for me too. It’s my favourite.

Witzend Sun 17-Nov-19 10:11:56

None of the really good, strong Cheddar I buy (including West Country) is orange-coloured. Why do the producers think it necessary to add colouring, I wonder? That is assuming that the colour doesn't come from something local that the cows eat.

Talking of foreigners liking it or not, though, my dd's big wedding do was in France. One food item (provided by us) was a cheese 'cake' consisting of rounds of different cheeses, the bottom layer being a large round West Country Cheddar.

On the morning after the big day, I found one of the caterers who'd come to clear, trying some of the leftover bottom layer. She said it was 'tres bon' and asked me what sort of cheese it was!

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:18:25

Do we get orange cheddar in this country? Isn't it more an American thing? I've never seen any.

From googling, the cows get less carotene from hay which they are fed in winter, than they get from the grass in Summer.

OP, carotene is not only from carrots. grin

MaizieD Sun 17-Nov-19 10:19:27

I'd never seen orange cheddar until I moved north of Watford. All the Cheddar I'd ever eaten/bought/seen in Essex (*loads of it*) was natural coloured. I was utterly amazed to be offered white or coloured cheddar in Yorkshire... Is it something to to with cultural differences?

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:20:16

I don't know how our farmers keep it the same colour all year round. But they seem to. confused

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:21:07

Yes - I seem to remember seeing it when we've been on holiday up North. Never see it down here in the South.

Jane10 Sun 17-Nov-19 10:22:04

There seems to a range of shades of orange cheddar. I like the milder kind and associate the stronger flavoured ones with the darker colour.

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:22:14

So, they must add annato to red leicester as well. Doesn't annato come from beetroots, so it's harmless.

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:22:58

Do you get white Leicester? confused

HannahLoisLuke Sun 17-Nov-19 10:23:01

I remember when on holiday in France we were at the cheese counter in the local supermarket and my ex got chatting to a couple of French ladies about wanting to buy some Cheddar.
"Chedaaar!" They said "it's for cooking only"

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:23:20

I'm overthinking this now. grin

EllieB52 Sun 17-Nov-19 10:23:42

Scottish Cheddar is orange. Felt a bit weird seeing it grated over a jacket potato in a cafe. However, they do sell the usual white stuff in the supermarkets. The orange colour is natural colouring although I don’t know why they want it to be orange. I love cheese but not eating at the moment as I have to get my cholesterol down ☹️

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:24:09

Well, it is very good for cooking. But it's excellent in sarnies as well. grin Specially with a bit of pickle.

MaizieD Sun 17-Nov-19 10:24:28

I don't find the carotene explanation very convincing. That would mean that all cheeses would vary in colour according to the season surely? But I've never seen coloured Wensleydale, for instance. Or coloured cheese in France..

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:25:43

No - they would never doctor their precious Wensleydale! Hawes Creamery folk would have a fit.

GrandmaMoira Sun 17-Nov-19 10:28:42

I've never seen orange cheddar. I thought only Red Leicester and Double Gloucester were red or orange. It never occurred to me that people would be put off by the colour. If it is an issue for the French, why do they eat blue cheese?

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 10:31:19

Doesn't the blue happen naturally (mould!) Not for me though. Eurgh.

EllanVannin Sun 17-Nov-19 10:41:57

I'm partial to a bit of Danish Blue. I get it around Christmastime by way of a change and for something different than the usual cheeses.

NemosMum Sun 17-Nov-19 10:51:53

Yellow and orange colouring in cheeses are usually turmeric and/or annatto. They are harmless, but, in my view, unnecessary.

CosyCrafter Sun 17-Nov-19 12:04:23

living in France, cheese is life! wink however I still love a bit of cheddar, luckily prepacked versions are on a lot of supermarket shelves, mainly UK made but have seen Belgian as mentioned on earlier post. The best thing is some supermarket deli counters are selling cheddars, various strengths ranging between 12 - 17 euros a kilo.. I have never seen any red coloured cheddar over here, though as a scot I am familiar with it. There are hundreds of french cheeses but sometimes only cheddar will do.

MaizieD Sun 17-Nov-19 12:08:40

A good stilton and gorgonzola are delicious cheeses, GG grin

But Danish Blue just tastes of mould and, IMO, is horrible...

Merryweather Sun 17-Nov-19 12:19:49

Just off to make a cheese and pickle sarnie.
Roast later, mmmmmm cheese.
I may have missed the point of the thread!
Sorry 🥴 x

Greyduster Sun 17-Nov-19 12:30:30

My mother used to buy orange cheddar - she probably thought it was exotic!😁 I have always always shied away from buying it. I like cheddar, but love a bit of Wensleydale or Farmhouse Lancashire myself. My only leaning toward continental cheese is Roquefort - much the best blue cheese with its subtle flavour. When we lived in Belgium we couldn’t get English cheeses unless we made a one hundred and forty kilometre journey to the nearest British base with a NAAFI shop. Our base commissary sold American cheeses which are a travesty, and there were good local cheeses, but sometimes you just crave a bit of cheddar, don’t you?

Aepgirl Sun 17-Nov-19 12:41:21

Why share it? Let the Italian friends eat their pale cheese and leave your lovely cheddar all to you.

Callistemon Sun 17-Nov-19 12:44:05

I don't think I've seen orange Cheddar either

I did buy some smoked cheese o Friday and think that he orange coating is Annette.

No auto-correct stop it please!

grannybuy Sun 17-Nov-19 12:58:08

There's always orange cheddar in Scottish supermarkets. I actually bought some in a New York supermarket last month. I think some people prefer the orange type when grated for the topping of dishes that are finished under the grill.

Gonegirl Sun 17-Nov-19 13:00:48

I like white stilton Maizie (when I can get it) but none of yer blue stuff.

EllanVannin Sun 17-Nov-19 13:07:41

A good Danish Blue has a " bite " to it and doesn't taste of mould.
I can't stand any other smelly cheeses though.

SueDonim Sun 17-Nov-19 13:13:00

I first came across red Cheddar when we moved to Scotland and were stranded on a train in the snow. British Rail, as it was then, produced some red cheddar cheese sandwiches for us. To say the cheese was like rubber is an understatement. We chewed and we chewed and we chewed. It gave our jaws a workout! grin

PamelaJ1 Sun 17-Nov-19 13:13:11

My DH used to feed carrots to his cows. Don’t think they made the cheddar orange though🐄🐄!

M0nica Sun 17-Nov-19 13:25:19

Follow the link given by Yorksherlass

The story is really fascinating and the colouring dates back to 16/17th century and possibly earlier

Thank you Yorksher. I have posted your link around my family of cheeseholics.

Urmstongran Sun 17-Nov-19 13:56:01

For blue cheese I adore St Agur

Ooh, that almost rhymes!

annodomini Sun 17-Nov-19 14:14:00

I've had red Cheddar from Aldi quite recently. I don't think it adds anything to the flavour, so can't imagine what colouring has been added. Red Cheshire is also well known.

Phloembundle Sun 17-Nov-19 14:16:59

I dislike cheese snobs almost as much as wine snobs, or any snobs come to that!

Cabbie21 Sun 17-Nov-19 14:26:35

Brought up in Leicestershire, my favourite cheese is Red Leicester, and red cheddar is not anywhere near as tasty. It also makes an excellent topping for dishes which brown in the oven.

grandtanteJE65 Sun 17-Nov-19 14:29:06

But orange cheddar and the pale cheddar don't taste the same!

If your Italian family still won't try it once you explain that it is a plant seed that colours it, just enjoy it yourself.

Theoddbird Sun 17-Nov-19 15:30:37

More for you....

lemongrove Sun 17-Nov-19 16:01:17

I have never noticed any orange coloured Cheddar cheese around in the UK ( am sure it exists though 😁).
The mousetrap DH likes is a pale yellow, but we also buy Wensleydale ( just gorgeous toasted) Double Gloucester,
Smoked cheddar, brie, and Stilton.Other cheeses are available.🤣

MaizieD Sun 17-Nov-19 16:16:22

I have never noticed any orange coloured Cheddar cheese around in the UK

You're not likely to have done so if you've never ventured north of Watford, lemon. grin

Urmstongran Sun 17-Nov-19 16:16:53

Ooh ‘Mexicana’

Esspee Sun 17-Nov-19 16:19:48

Cheddar is pale but in Scotland they add annatto which gives it an orange tint. Having lived in the Caribbean where annato grows and is used as a food colouring, I am at a loss as to why this is done.
I was told once that annato was used by Amerindians as a poison on their arrows. No idea whether this is true.

Funnygran Sun 17-Nov-19 16:36:54

Years ago my late sister and family lived abroad and couldn’t get decent cheese which they craved. We were going to visit them and bought a whole Stilton which I froze. As we were about to leave for the airport I packed it in newspaper in the middle of my suitcase. Thirteen hours later it was still pretty frozen and was cut up and put straight into their freezer. Lasted them for months and their British neighbours were treated to some occasionally. Thinking back, it was probably breaking some custom rules to import cheese!

kwest Sun 17-Nov-19 16:41:20

Yarg is amazing. I was told it was the producer's name 'back to front'. It really is delicious. Waitrose sell it.

AnotherLiz Sun 17-Nov-19 17:12:13

Hi giulia. I live near Cheddar and love mature/extra mature Cheddar. I don’t recall ever seeing orange coloured cheddar and certainly there's none that colour in the various local supermarkets I buy it from.

Fennel Sun 17-Nov-19 17:24:11

I'm another fan of cheddar, but never seen it red.
i always get the stongest.
We used to live in SW France and the Carrefour supermarket eventually stocked cheddar, not coloured.
But before that I used to buy another french cheese which was similar, can't remember the name. Also graded young ...old etc. I think it was Cantal:

shysal Sun 17-Nov-19 17:26:38

I always buy the red mature cheddar, not because it tastes any different, but because the addition of just a little to a sauce or dish looks so rich in colour that I tend not to add an unhealthy amount. It is in all my local supermarkets in Oxfordshire.

lemongrove Sun 17-Nov-19 17:29:17

MaizieD as I’m from Yorkshire , you’d be wrong then lass.😄

Dinahmo Sun 17-Nov-19 17:30:49

My local supermarket in France has good cheddar which they cut from a large block. It's strong tasting and crumbly, of the type a friend once described as "making your gums hurt". There is also a chain of fruit and veg shops which import foreign cheeses and the have an excellent cheddar which they buy in small truckles. It's very expensive so only an occasional treat.

Apparently there are over 700 varieties of cheese in the UK. The French find this hard to believe because they aren't regulated, unlike here. eg Roquefort can only be called by that name if it comes from the village of Roquefort. There are artisan cheese makers where I live but I think it's all goats cheese (which I like).

NotSpaghetti Sun 17-Nov-19 17:39:42

I've seen both red and white cheddar. And no, Gonegirl the dye is from a tree fruit, not beetroot. If you have it in quantity it's a bit nutmeggy. I came upon it in the Caribbean years ago - before I knew what it was used for. Years later I found it listed in cheese in the USA and as I was working with cheese (!) looked it up. It has an E number in Europe but the USA doesn't treat it as an additive as it's a "natural" colour.
I have to say that even so I avoided it in the 80s as had young children and it sometimes provokes allergic reactions.

Someone earlier said something about the 16th century use of it in tiny amounts... I seem to remember that was to "pretend" a particular cheese was made with better milk (better milk = more yellowy).

Fennel Sun 17-Nov-19 17:43:58

Oh how I miss this part of France, Dinahmo.
In our weekly local market, Mirande 32, there was a cheese stand with all the kinds of cheese you can imagine.
Made from the milk/cream of all the local or Pyrenean lactating animals - sheep, goats, cows etc.

grannybuy Sun 17-Nov-19 18:14:51

I had no idea that red cheddar was less common further south. Reading this has reminded me that I never came across white cheddar until after I was married and doing my own shopping. M & S sell a nice red and blue cheese called, I think, Blacksticks Blue.

Wheniwasyourage Sun 17-Nov-19 18:26:47

I always thought that cheddar cheese was red, as that was what I was brought up with (in Scotland). Now I would be likely to buy the white stuff as now that I know it exists, I can't see the point of adding dye.

dragonfly46 Sun 17-Nov-19 18:32:01

I have never bought red Cheddar.

dragonfly46 Sun 17-Nov-19 18:43:01

When we lived in Holland my cheesemonger didn’t like to stock Cheddar as it didn’t keep as well as Dutch cheeses. He used to stock blue Stilton though.

BradfordLass72 Sun 17-Nov-19 19:01:09

By jingoes, you're lucky to get English cheeses so cheap!

Maggiemaybe Sun 17-Nov-19 19:35:20

I absolutely love cheese, but like a previous poster, can't abide cheese snobs. We're so lucky to have such a huge range of cheeses from home and abroad, easily available and relatively cheap. I've rarely found one I don't care for, but always come back to Cheddar (orange) or Red Leicester for cheese on toast. There's just something so comforting about that strong taste and warm colour.

Callistemon Sun 17-Nov-19 19:39:24

The red colouring around the smoked cheese was paprika, according to the label.

Jane10 the stronger Cheddar eg vintage (Welsh, West Country, Cornish) seems to be paler than the milder ones

Callistemon Sun 17-Nov-19 19:40:57

We had some lovely brie today, a whole small one.
Lidl apparently.

Well I didn't eat a whole one, obviously, there were several of us!

Callistemon Sun 17-Nov-19 19:41:39

EllanVannin my dad always ate Danish Blue.

Callistemon Sun 17-Nov-19 19:45:43

I was brought up very north of Watford Maizie and don't ever remember seeing orange Cheddar.

It just doesn't sound right.

Having eaten so much cheese today when we were out, DH declined cheese and biscuits for his supper.

Magpie1959 Sun 17-Nov-19 22:12:47

I'm amazed that red cheddar is an unknown to so many GN's - its in every supermarket, artisan markets, farmers markets etc etc here in the North West. For the cheese snobs its even in the local "Cheese Emporium"
Its a lovely colour - I eat either white or red, I've never known any different.
In Canada one of their favourite cheeses is red and white cheddar in stripes - its a very mild variety which is quite rubbery, not one of my favourites!

M0nica Sun 17-Nov-19 22:24:02

Now the cheese I really miss - and rarely see- is green cheese, that wonderful cheese called Sage Derby. In the past I seem to remember the cheese being marbled in green but the only one I have seen recently looks more like a sandwich, a thin layer of green in the middle between two great chunks of white cheese.

glammagran Sun 17-Nov-19 22:43:54

I absolutely love Epoisses soft french cheese. Youngest DD says it smells so awful she can’t open our fridge if I have it in.

GabriellaG54 Mon 18-Nov-19 04:07:35

Montgomery cheddar is somewhat expensive in the amounts I buy but IMO, the best.
Superb after dinner with grapes, pears, dates.
I had some extraordinary cheese at a dinner party given by an Italian friend, at which the usual customs of her country of birth were observed as far as the order of dishes served.
The cheese was a pale cream, quite brittle and only a knuckle was apportioned to each guest with water biscuits.
I think it was brought to the UK after one her trips 'home'.
Montgomery cheddar is the closest taste and texture to that aforementioned cheese.

GabriellaG54 Mon 18-Nov-19 04:21:39

Red Fox is a great red cheese from Waitrose.
I'm a cheese aficianado (more enthusiastic than knowledgeable) but do not like Brie.
Years ago I had some nettle cheese in Wales which was wonderful.
We're so lucky to have such choice in foods from all around the world but it's hard to beat a well baked, crusty baguette, premium butter, a selection of cheeses, grapes and dates plus wine if you're a drinker and water if not. Live like a king...or queen.

BradfordLass72 Mon 18-Nov-19 06:39:12

I have always detected an unpleasant amoniac taste in Brie and Camembert, until I ate it in France.

They don't pasteurise their milk before making it, which I was told by a cheese expert, is what gives the Brie its 'wet nappy' tang.

What GabriellaG54 describes above is also my ideal and in fact when pregnant with my 2nd son, had a months-long craving for exactly that (sans dates) with crusty wholemeal rolls.

We can buy genuine French cheese here but at 4 times the price of the NZ version.

There are also many artisan cheese makers here and I once did a tour of them and spent a fortune in Kaiwaka Cheese Shop. I could easily live in that place!

Granless Mon 18-Nov-19 07:44:23

Shropshire Blue for me ......... yummy! I do like Cheddar but only as cheese on toast.

NotSpaghetti Mon 18-Nov-19 11:14:27

Has anyone seen any of the Doolin cheeses recently? I found them in Ireland, loved them, and later (for a while), my local Tesco stocked one of them.
Would certainly like some again!

Margs Mon 18-Nov-19 11:24:51

They should see the colour of ShropShire Blue - almost DayGlo orange! But the best blue cheese ever, IMHO.