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  #1  
Old 08-15-2004, 12:37 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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What process makes cheddar cheese "sharp" vs "mild"?

So I ask Le Companion to pick up a block of cheddar while in store for other things, and I add "get the sharp or the extra sharp". I am asked "How is it different?" I answer in a somewhat disparaging manner that I am astonished that she does not know. Sharp cheddar is



...sharper?


Well, OK, I could describe the difference in taste with other adjectives, but I was in mid-realization, as it was now dawning on me that unless each hoop is sampled and graded by cheese samplers, that wasn't much of an explanation. If there's something different that they do to it to make it sharp or mild or extra sharp or medium or whatever, I don't know what it is any more than she does.

Any of you Vermont or Wisconsin folks in a position to clue me in?
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2004, 12:42 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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It's all about thiol compounds.

Here's a nice powerpoint about aged cheddar. http://www.fst.ohio-state.edu/People...DSA%20Jim1.ppt

Quote:
There are both qualitative and quantitative differences in thiol compounds in aged Cheddar Cheese

Definite identification of the thiol compounds remains to be determined

The role of specific multi-functional thiol compounds in Cheddar flavor requires further work
basically, the longer a cheddar is aged, the more thiol compounds develop. These thiol compounds seem to correlate with the sensation of "sharpness"

QtM
Whose dad was born in an old cheese factory, and whose aunt still works in one.
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  #3  
Old 08-15-2004, 02:04 PM
Squink Squink is offline
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Behold, The power of sulfur!
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  #4  
Old 08-15-2004, 03:03 PM
Kat Kat is offline
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It's definitely the aging time. I once bought a block of mild cheddar cheese, put it in the refrigerator and forgot about it. When I rediscovered it, I was able to enjoy a small feast of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

So, if he messes up and gets mild, just age it yourself.
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  #5  
Old 08-16-2004, 02:15 AM
Ponster Ponster is offline
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I'm guessing that sharp is the term used in the USA for cheese that has been aged longer than other cheeses i.e. mature in the UK ?
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  #6  
Old 08-16-2004, 06:08 AM
Noone Really Noone Really is offline
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I was unable to view the Powerpoint linked by QtM but I would suggest that the flavour development in Cheddar is not only about thiols. Proteolysis of the milk proteins is significant but breakdown of the milk fats or lipids is also important. The textbooks from my cheesemaking days are long gone but I found the following pdf which is consistent with what I was taught:

http://www.bioscience-explained.org/...f/cheeseEN.pdf

Quote:
What happens during maturation depends on many factors such as storage temperature, humidity, the wrapping of the cheese and so on. Throughout this period the milk proteins are broken down into peptides and then to free amino acids. The more the protein molecules are broken into shorter polypeptide chains and volatile molecules the stronger the taste will be. Lipids also break down into smaller molecules and fatty acids. Because these are very aromatic they are of great importance to the taste and smell of cheese.
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  #7  
Old 08-16-2004, 06:41 AM
Barbarian Barbarian is offline
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mmm. Aged cheddar. But I wanna know how long Kat left cheese in the fridge.
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  #8  
Old 08-16-2004, 06:49 AM
bouv bouv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbarian
mmm. Aged cheddar. But I wanna know how long Kat left cheese in the fridge.
It must have been a long time. If I remember my cheese package right, sharp cheese is aged anywhere from 6-12 months, wheras mild seems to be around the 3 month mark. So that's 3 months in the fridge. A block of cheese the size of a car battery wouldn't last that long in my fridge.
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  #9  
Old 08-16-2004, 07:47 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Cheesehead checking in here.

Although I don't know the actual chemistry behind it, generally, the longer the cheese is aged, the sharper the taste.

Renard's Cheese sells cheddar from 1 day old (fresh curds) to 4 years (very sharp).

An interesting fact: some cheeses are colored by dyes. Renard's sells an excellent 2-year old "white" cheddar without the traditional dark yellow dye. It's not pure white, just a very light yellow. Mmmmm. Slice me a slab and hand me a beer.
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  #10  
Old 08-16-2004, 08:38 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bouv
sharp cheese is aged anywhere from 6-12 months
Feh. That's mild to me. I've a block of cheddar in my fridge 9 years old! For me, aged doesn't even start until 2 years, and doesn't get good until 3 or 4!
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  #11  
Old 08-16-2004, 08:59 AM
chorpler chorpler is offline
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Does that mean you've had the cheese in your refrigerator for 9 years, Qadgop? If so, doesn't it tend to get covered with mold?

And how do they keep it from molding over while aging at the cheese factory, anyway?
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  #12  
Old 08-16-2004, 09:50 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat
An interesting fact: some cheeses are colored by dyes. Renard's sells an excellent 2-year old "white" cheddar without the traditional dark yellow dye. It's not pure white, just a very light yellow. Mmmmm. Slice me a slab and hand me a beer.
As far as I know, all orangeish and reddish cheddars are dyed. Traditionally, natural coloring made from annatto seeds (aka achiote) are used.

As for keeping cheese from getting moldy. In a reasonably dry environment, you don't have to worry about that too much. But if the cheese does start getting molding, you just take a damp wet cloth and wipe the mold off. Another option is waxing the cheese.
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  #13  
Old 08-16-2004, 11:02 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chorpler
Does that mean you've had the cheese in your refrigerator for 9 years, Qadgop? If so, doesn't it tend to get covered with mold?

And how do they keep it from molding over while aging at the cheese factory, anyway?
It's got a nice wax seal on it. I bought it at the specialty shop at age 8, and am keeping it around a bit longer.

I had a 5 pound wheel of cheddar we took to 10 years once before it got et. Now that was so sharp I could shave with it. But I used it on english muffins and in omelets instead.
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  #14  
Old 08-16-2004, 11:33 AM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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Mmmm

Thanks, folks!
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  #15  
Old 08-16-2004, 01:00 PM
Trigonal Planar Trigonal Planar is offline
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Can mild or sharp be similarly applied to he whom cut the cheese?
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  #16  
Old 08-16-2004, 05:38 PM
Shrinking Violet Shrinking Violet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
I bought it at the specialty shop at age 8
Now c'mon Doc - that would make you only 17! Or were you a child prodigy?
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  #17  
Old 08-16-2004, 08:07 PM
MaceMan MaceMan is offline
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No, he bought the cheese a year ago. It had already aged 8 years when he bought it.
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  #18  
Old 08-16-2004, 11:14 PM
KP KP is offline
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Nah, QtM was clearly quite the prodigy. Or was that Prodigal?

The tricky part is explaining Elfbabe (is that the right nick?)
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  #19  
Old 08-16-2004, 11:22 PM
Barbarian Barbarian is offline
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I'm gonna raid QtM's fridge.
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  #20  
Old 08-17-2004, 11:27 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbarian
I'm gonna raid QtM's fridge.
To get to the cheese, you'll have to get past the ostrich summersausage, the vegemite, the marmite, the habanero jelly, the pepper extract sauce, and some birch syrup. The spruce jelly went bad and had to be tossed.
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  #21  
Old 08-17-2004, 12:03 PM
LordVor LordVor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
Feh. That's mild to me. I've a block of cheddar in my fridge 9 years old! For me, aged doesn't even start until 2 years, and doesn't get good until 3 or 4!
A word of advice: Never leave Wisconsin. You wouldn't believe what they consider "sharp" out here in California. (I've yet to find a store that even HAS a 4 year old cheddar selection.)

-lv
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  #22  
Old 08-17-2004, 12:33 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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We have a new grocery open out here called Woodman's that hails from Wisconsin. While browsing the 1/4 long mile cheese section, I came across a cellophane wrapped chunk of what was labeled "Super super super sharp cheddar". However, I have a strict 2 adjective limit on my dairy foods so I had to pass it up.
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  #23  
Old 08-17-2004, 02:56 PM
bughunter bughunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordVor
You wouldn't believe what they consider "sharp" out here in California. (I've yet to find a store that even HAS a 4 year old cheddar selection.)
Two words:

Trader.

Joe's.


You will find your cheddar fix there.
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  #24  
Old 08-17-2004, 04:43 PM
LordVor LordVor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bughunter
You will find your cheddar fix there.
Bah. Been there, done that. No comparison.
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  #25  
Old 08-17-2004, 04:55 PM
Shrinking Violet Shrinking Violet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bughunter
Two words:

Trader.

Joe's.


You will find your cheddar fix there.
Two words:

Cheddar.

Somerset.


You will find your cheddar fix there.

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  #26  
Old 08-17-2004, 05:39 PM
bughunter bughunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordVor
Bah. Been there, done that. No comparison.
Well, then you have been to a California store that has a 4 year old cheddar selection, despite your claim to be unable to find one. You're just being a cheddar prudeTM.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that... me, I'm a provolone prudeTM)
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  #27  
Old 08-17-2004, 06:44 PM
The Devil's Grandmother The Devil's Grandmother is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordVor
A word of advice: Never leave Wisconsin. You wouldn't believe what they consider "sharp" out here in California. (I've yet to find a store that even HAS a 4 year old cheddar selection.)
If you are on the San Francisco peninsula, try either the Milk Pail in Mountain View or Cheese Please in San Mateo. There’s good cheese in California, its just not at any of the megamarkets.
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  #28  
Old 08-17-2004, 08:14 PM
Backwater Under_Duck Backwater Under_Duck is offline
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There was a thread a while back about products that had to change their names due to political correction ("Ayds" diet candy, for example). Cracker Barrel is the name of an American cheddar cheese that I have eaten all my life. It comes in these little square rectangular bars that slice exactly to fit your basic square soda cracker (saltine). They come in four aged varieties, color-coded for your convenience. Yellow packages are mild, orange packages are sharp and the red packages are extra-sharp. I know American sharp cheddar isn't all that sharp. I've always liked my cheese extra-extra sharp. So I would always have my Mom buy me the Cracker Barrel Black package of cheese. Back then they called it COON cheese. It had a bite, alright. Nowadays, they call it New York Reserved. What the hell does New York have to do with good cheese?
Man, the top of my head is sweating from just thinking about some good, sharp cheese.
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  #29  
Old 08-17-2004, 08:19 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backwater Under_Duck
What the hell does New York have to do with good cheese?
Upstate New York makes some decent cheese. I won't turn my nose up at it.

But it ain't 9 year old Wisconsin cheddar!
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