Smoking has been used for millennia as a way of preserving and flavouring food, although smoked cheddar is a relatively recent development. Both block and cloth-bound versions can be smoked, with producers using different techniques. Some add smoke flavouring to the curd, others cold smoke the cheese over wood chippings, such as oak or maple, for several hours, while a combination of both techniques can also be employed.
The production steps are otherwise the same as for other types of cheddar, following the hard cheese process. The curds are cut, stirred and scalded to temperatures around 38-42°C to remove moisture. The whey is drained and the piles of curd are cut into blocks which are turned and stacked (cheddared) to drain more whey from the curds as they acidify. Once the target acidity is reached, the curds are milled and salted before moulding and pressing. The cheese is often cut into wedges and slices to help the flavour better penetrate during the cold smoking process.
Eating Smoked Cheddar at Christmas
Smoked cheddar is everything you want from a cheese in winter, sensuously smoky, buttery and calling out to consumed by a log fire. It works equally well in a tart alongside hot-smoked salmon, the perfect dish for those ‘in between’ days.
This Cheese is part of the Master of Cheese Level One associate certificate