Aged cheddar cheese

Aged cheddar is matured anywhere from one to three years (in comparison, mild cheddars are matured for just three to four months).

Age will make good cheddar better – though it won’t make a bad cheese good. Some manufacturers clearly state on the label how long the cheddar has been maturing but others don’t: the packaging may say “Aged” or “Vintage” but there’s no indication of how old it actually is.

As with the bries, our panel didn’t think any of the aged cheddars were exceptional. Tops for taste were: Ferndale Old Southern Waxed Aged Cheddar, Kaimai Mature Cheddar, Puhoi Valley Aged Cheddar and Mainland Cheddar Masters Epicure.

The latter had been maturing for 36 months and the Ferndale for 24 months. However, labels on the two other cheddars didn’t state the age of the cheese.

Of the cheddars rated “below average”, one was a “club cheese”. This was Mersey Valley Club Cheddar, an Australian import. Club cheese is not real cheddar: it’s made by milling ordinary cheddar – or blends of different cheddars – and forming the pieces back together into a block. The taste is very different from traditional cheddar and this is something to be aware of if you want the real thing.

As a club cheese, the Mersey Valley was OK, says panel member Neil Willman. But all panel members agreed it fell well short of ideal for an aged cheddar. 

Aged cheddars comparison table

Guide to the table

  • Products are listed in alphabetical order within categories. All products were bought in Wellington supermarkets between 15 and 18 May 2009.
  • Cheeses are New Zealand-made except Mersey Valley Club Cheddar, which is from Australia. 

 

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