What kind of cheddar do you buy from the supermarket? White or yellow? Whatever the case, i’m pretty sure you do find a distinct difference between the two, right? Well, wait till you hear this one.
According to Liz Thorpe, the vice president of New York’s Murray’s Cheese Shop, there is absolutely no intrinsic difference! The yellow is caused by adding coloring additive.
Here’s how it goes. (the article continues after the ad)
When produced, cheddar has a white to light yellow color – the color most of us call ‘white’ cheddar. The yellow, almost orange color, comes from adding a natural-based coloring that comes from the extract of a South American plant called annatto. By adding this additive, the color of the cheese changes to dark yellow but the flavor and texture remain the same. It’s important here to note that this is not chemical whatsoever.
All the difference in flavor comes from the aging process and that’s why we have many categories (mild, medium or sharp) based on how long the cheese has been aged.
So why do people prefer one from another?
As Thorpe mentions, the preference is mostly cultural. For example, Vermont most often than not, goes with white cheddar while Wisconsin is a yellow territory. The reason why the coloring is added is to help the cheese have the same color all year-round and it’s a technique used for more than 200 years.