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Did you know that cow, goat, and sheep milk are all used to make Canadian cheddar? But these milk sources aren’t the only differences between cheddar produced north of the border.
Canadians don’t have the ancient caves that the English used to produce the early blocks of cheddar. And the government also plays a role in dairy production and supply. So let’s dive in and learn more about what makes Canadian cheddar different (and so expensive)!
What Is American Cheddar?
Cheddar first originated in the town of the same name in Somerset, England. This type of cheese had a saltier, sharper flavor due to the moderate-to-high acid milk. The texture also changed to a firmer, chunkier cheese.
The act of “cheddaring” is an additional step in the production of cheese, where the curd is kneaded with salt, and the whey is drained. Strong cheddar matures for 15 months or longer.
When Puritans arrived in Massachusetts, they brought this English cheddar cheese with them. Known as “American cheddar,” this became the predominant cheese until the 20th Century.
Cheddar cheese is still the most popular cheese in England. It’s the second most popular cheese in America after mozzarella.
How Is a Canadian Cheddar Different?
The climate, soil, and cattle in Canada mean this country produces some of the best cheddar in the world. However, unlike cheddar cheese made in England, Canadian cheddars have a smoother, creamier texture.
Cheeses aren’t ripened in ancient caves but in aging rooms, resulting in a different texture and flavor. Canadian cheddar sometimes ages for up to six years rather than 15 months.
What’s the History of Canadian Cheddar?
So how did Canada enter the cheddar cheese market? In the mid-19th Century, Canadian farmers experienced a wheat midge outbreak and started transitioning to dairy farming.
These farms were so productive that cheddar cheese became the second-leading export after timber by the 20th Century. In fact, Canadian cheddar is so popular that in “Canada” in Disney World’s EPCOT, you can get Canadian cheddar cheese soup.
The most prize-winning Canadian cheddar company is the Balderson Cheese Company. They even have a five-year-old cheddar. Check out the Balderson Village Cheese Store in Ontario if you’d like to package up a few blocks of Canadian cheddar. The staff will prepare gift boxes or baskets or even assemble a Charcuterie board in a box.
Today you’ll also find various flavors: cranberry, dill, flax, garlic, jalapeno, olive, and sun-dried tomato. Flavored Canadian cheddar can spice up a wine-and-dine event or offer a change to your daily afternoon snack.
Lancashire, Double Gloucester, Wensleydale, Leicester, Derby, Cheshire, Cantal, Caerphilly, and Colby are all common Canadian cheddars.
Keep in Mind: Looking for unique camping foods to try? Check out these Unusual Camping Foods!
Is Canadian Cheddar More Expensive Than American Cheddar?
Canadian cheddar is quite expensive. Compared to American cheddar, it can cost up to three times as much. This is due, in part, to the policies regulating dairy farming in Canada.
The U.S. government subsidizes dairy farmers, but the Canadian government doesn’t. Instead, it has a minimum price set for dairy products to protect farmers from fluctuations in the market. This helps secure their livelihood.
Another reason for higher prices for Canadian cheddar is it’s challenging and expensive to get permits and licenses to produce local cheese. The raw ingredients, including a regulated milk source, are expensive for artisans.
Therefore, Canadian dairy farmers make more money directly from customers, but those customers pay higher prices for production.
What Types of Cheddar Are Good for Snacking?
When looking for a cheese snack, your best option is classic cheddar. This is why mild or medium cheddar cheese is often melted on burgers and used in macaroni and cheese dishes. Marble cheddar is also satisfying for a midday snack.
Grabbing a handful of classic cheddar cheese bites is also a healthier alternative to chips or cookies. As long as you don’t have a dairy allergy or sensitivity, snacking on cheese provides Vitamin K, calcium, and healthy fats. Create a mix of cheese, nuts, and crackers and have a delicious, satisfying mid-day snack.
Pro Tip: Before you cross the border, make sure you know these popular Canadian sayings!
What Types of Cheddar Are Best for Baking?
Sharp cheddar cheese is best for baking. Mild cheese doesn’t offer much flavor. This is why some grab sharp cheddar cheese when making a grilled cheese sandwich.
The aging process develops a stronger taste, so grab extra sharp cheddar if you want a tangier flavor. It’s also more affordable than other types of cheeses and readily available.
What Types of Cheddar Pair Well With Wines?
Aged and sharp cheddar are good options for a wine and dine event. The tangy flavor balances the tannins and also brings out the citrus in certain wines.
Canadian cheddar pairs easily with red and white wines. Popular red wines include Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel, while popular white wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.
But don’t forget Porter, Pale Ale, Stout, and even Scotch. Aged cheddar also pairs well with these beverages.
Enjoy Canadian Cheddar on Your Next Trip North of the Border
If you’re heading to Banff National Park or Jasper National Park this summer, don’t spend all day exploring, hiking, and paddling. These are some beautiful places with spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.
But take time to venture into the local towns and find some Canadian cheddar to bring back with you to the States. See if you can taste the difference.
What will you pair with your Canadian cheddar cheese?