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Cheese 101

An A to Z guide to choosing, storing, preparing, and cooking fresh produce and recipe ingredients.

  • How to Choose Cheddar
    The only difference between white and orange Cheddar is that the orange version is tinted with a flavorless, plant-derived coloring called annatto. Mild Cheddar is aged for 2 to 3 months, while sharp Cheddar gets its characteristic bite from longer aging—the finest varieties take up to 2 years. Aged Cheddar is harder, with a crumblier texture and a more pronounced flavor than mild Cheddar.

  • How to Store Cheddar
    Cheese contains live cultures and needs to breathe, but it also must be protected from drying out. Wrap it in wax paper, then loosely in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it in the higher humidity of the cheese-meat drawer. Mild Cheddar keeps for several weeks, sharp for even longer. If mold appears on the surface, simply cut it off; the unblemished interior is safe to eat.

    How to Prepare Cheddar
    Like most cheese, Cheddar tastes best at room temperature. Remove it from the refrigerator an hour before serving.

  • How to Use Cheddar
    For melting, mild Cheddars are best; low-fat versions do not melt well and become rubbery.

    —Melinda Page

    Real Simple Cheddar Recipes:

    See all Cheddar recipes »

What's your favorite cheddar recipe?

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