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A cow's milk cheese, pressed into very large slabs, or occasionally in rounds. Matured 1 to 12 months, usually off-white, smooth, semi-hard with a tangy taste.
Pressing (above) and Curing (below) Cheddar Cheese
from 'The Book of Cheese', 1918
Nathan Bailey's 1721 Dictionary has; "Cheddar or Cheddar..the most noted place in all England for making large, fine, rich, and pleasant cheese; for which purpose all the milk of the town cows is brought every day into one common room, where proper persons are appointed to receive it, and set down every person's quantity in a book kept for that purpose, which is put all together, and one common cheese made with it."
Cheddar now accounts for about half of all cheese sold in the UK, but the only version actually made in Cheddar is that from the The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, who mature their product in Gough's Cave. The ubiquity of Cheddar may come, not only from its middle-of-the-road taste and texture, but as much from the ingenious 'Cheddar-Club' cooperative way in which it was formerly manufactured.
This large-scale manufacture made the finance available for the pioneering Somerset cheese-maker Joseph Harding (1805-1876), the 'Father of Cheddar Cheese', to introduce a number of new techniques, including mechanised curd-cutting, which made for an inexpensive and reliable product. Such efficient manufacture led the Government to encourage Cheddar production over other types of cheese, especially during wartime, so that whereas before the First World War there were more than 3,500 cheese producers in Britain, fewer than 100 remained after the Second World War.
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