The colour of cheddar

Cheddar’s cheating colour

Have you ever wondered why some cheddar cheeses are white and others are red? Well, I have 🙂 and of course there is an interesting story behind which takes us 400 years back in time…

The colour of cheddar

Natural eye catcher 

But first things first. What is the colour actually? It is the natural colouring agent annatto which is made out of seeds from a small tree originating from South and Central America. The name of the tree is bixa orellana and it has big beautiful red flowers. You extract the powerful colour from the seeds. Through out the years, man has used the colour to dive clothes, butter and cheese…

The colour of cheddar

Cheating the cheese better

Around the 16th century in Britain, people agreed upon that a quality cheese was dark yellow or even light orange. Maybe it began from the fact that the best cheese makers used milk from cows grassing outside during summer, a milk which naturally was full of Beta Carotene. A colour which was intensified as the milk was turning into cheese. It could also be that the best cheese makers at that time used the full fat morning milk which was mixed with the cream from the evening milk the day before.

Regardless of the reason, a cheese with a dark colour could be sold at a higher price…. 

The colour of cheddar

The habit of using a colouring agent in the cheese production spread, and today we see it in cheddar (some of them), double glouchester and red leicester (the two last cheeses are British traditional regional cheeses).

This was a bit of cheese knowledge for you – had you already wondered about the colour or not…

The colour of cheddar

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