The cheddaring process takes a long time. When the curds are separated from the whey they are cut. This step of cutting the curds is used when making almost all types of cheese, but it is taken one step further for cheddar cheese. To make cheddar, the curds are cut up and then pressed together into slabs. The slabs of curds are stacked on top of each other. This can be repeated several times. The more liquid that drains from the curds, the firmer the resulting cheese will be. Then the curds are finally put through a mill to chop up the stacks and create the curds that will be pressed into molds. From there, wheels of cheddar are typically aged. In Canada cheddar can be aged up to 20 years and with that aging comes a price. Cheddar can be round, squared, waxed, bound in cloth, infused and in large and weighty.
The largest cheese prior to the 20th century was a 22,000-pound cheddar made in Perth, Ontario, for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A even larger cheese—more than 34,000 pounds and 14 feet across—was made for the Wisconsin Pavilion at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York. The current record holder is a 56,850-pound cheddar made in Oregon by the Federation of American Cheese-makers in 1989. In fall of 1995, a Quebec, Canada cheesemaker produced a behemoth 57,518-pound cheddar cheese.
In Canada, following a wheat midge outbreak in the mid-19th century, farmers in Ontario began to convert to dairy farming in large numbers, and Cheddar cheese became their main exportable product, even being exported to England. By the turn of the 20th century, 1,242 Cheddar factories were in Ontario, and Cheddar had become Canada’s second-largest export after timber. Cheddar exports totaled 234,000,000 lb (106,000,000 kg) in 1904, but by 2012, Canada was a net importer of cheese.
Applewood Smoked Cheddar : The Cows’ Creamery (Charlottetown Prince Edward Island)
Applewood Smoked Cheddar is made with a recipe that originates from the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland. Using a dry stir method, in which the curds are dried and then salted, smoked for six hours and then finally then pressed. In 2013 it won the Canadian Grand Prize for Flavour. Thermalized raw whole milk. Natural rind. Aged for 2 years.
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar : Cows Creamery (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Unique to Canada, Avonlea is made using traditional cheddar-making techniques, most notably the wrapping of the cheddar in cloth (muslin or cheesecloth) for aging. Thus the reference to “clothbound” or “bandaged cheddar.” This cheese-making style originated in England’s Somerset County, where cheddar was created in a village of the same name. Linkletter, whose COWS Creamery is most famous for its homemade ice cream, was inspired to expand into cheese making while travelling in Orkney in northern Scotland. He was so taken with the quality and flavour of one of the local cheeses that he befriended the cheese maker and used the local recipe as the starting point for the Avonlea Cheddar. And why the name Avonlea? According to Mr. Linkletter, “we thought that was a great name because of the connection with Anne of Green Gables – since this is the way cheese would have been made.” Raw Holstein milk. Aged 2 years.
Ile-aux-Grues Old Cheddar : Fromagerie de l’île-aux-Grues (Chaudières-Appalaches)
The Île-aux-Grues Cheese Factory started its operations in 1977 when fourteen milk producers got together to form an agricultural cooperative. Depending on its aging period, this cheddar presents different tastes. The herd of cows from the “Lilogru” farm is made up entirely of Brown Swiss that are fed only hay which grows naturally in the Île-aux-Grues reefs. This milk is used specifically to produce the Tomme de Grosse Île and it gives this cheese its particular flavour.The two year old cheese is a firmer and dryer cheddar with unparalleled creaminess. In your mouth, you get a slight granular texture typical of older cheddars. It is a true island cheddar with a robust taste that is perfect in the morning over blueberry jam and toast. Made with thermalized cow milk. Aged 2-3 years.
Gédéon : Fromagerie Médard (Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, QC)
Gédéon is a strong buttery vacuum-aged cheddar. This farm cheddar is made from the whole milk of Swiss Brown cows that are fed in the pasture in the summer and dry hay in the winter. It has a smooth texture and fruity taste. This cheese was named in honour of the village located near the cheese dairy, Saint-Gédéon. Pasteurized Cow milk, firm paste. Aged 8 months.
Cru de Clocher : Le Fromage au Village (Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Québec)
The cheese maker suggests 2 types of aging for her marvellous cheddar. After 6 months, the cheese is medium-strong with a very smooth texture. When aged for more than 2 years, it preserves its creaminess but has a more pronounced flavour. Whether it is aged for 6 months or over 2 years, the Cru du Clocher tastes wonderful, reminding us of the old cheddar from 50 years ago, when every town had a cheese dairy. Raw cow milk. Firm paste. Aged 2 years.