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Feb 23, 2012 07:24 AM

Cheddar please??? Who makes the best cheddars???

Would love to hear everyone's suggestions as to some of their favorite cheddars. Also, would like to know who makes the best cheddars??? Specific dairy sources, etc. Thanks!

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  1. grocery store--cabot or tillamook. that's my preference at least.

    26 Replies
      1. re: UTgal

        I'm all for Tillamook as well! They make several versions too.

        1. re: boyzoma

          +1 for Tillamook. Most often buy Tillamook dark-blue wrapped white cheddar for under $6 on sale for two pounds. The same price as their famous orange-colored regular medium Tillamook cheddar shown at: Dark-blue wrapped white cheddar is my favorite most consumed of all cheese (when eat cheese and sometimes do not for weeks). The Tillamook USA retail store finder is here: and you can buy online mail order at:

          When splurging Tillamook I get black label extra sharp white cheddar cheese as is here: Buy when get on sale under $10 for two pounds. Is beyond my daily use dark blue wrapped $6 medium discussed first. I use this second better black wrapped white extra sharp cheddar like other quality hard cheeses. Example top pasta, salad, and such as use a quality parmesan or pecorino romano. When want a strong cheddar flavor like this one. With a better cheddar cheese with a stronger flavor one can use much less with better results. Grated finer or sliced thinner will expose more cell walls to taste buds. Stronger sharper brings the great flavor of cheddar with less fat to what it is with. Sometimes less can be more. To me it is the best cheddar I've found easy access to. While my next step up in grated is tasty strong salty goats milk Pecorino Romano at TJs for about $6 per pound. Pecorino from a wheel with the writing on the back is awesome grated can be sliced and often get for less than the best cheddar kinds.

          A good local deal is at Grocery Outlet is a bag of 3/4" bricks of extra sharp dry cheddar three pounds for $6. Is hard to use pre-cut sometimes. Stronger than most cheddar taste. But more salt than some. I like it for a $2 per pound extra sharp cheddar cheese that is good and a little different.

          Sharp cheddar bulk at Winco is 3.28 per pound in 1 to 2.5 pound chunks. With much less salt. But to me does not have as good a strong sharp cheddar flavor as do the other cheese kinds above. For mild cheddar Winco bulk is best at $2.78 per pound in 1 to 2.5 pound chunks. If want a strong cheddar as I usually crave Tillamook has a good balance between salt and cheddar flavor. I use the two white Tillamook cheddar cheeses for comparison when consider other cheddar.

          These above are what we eat when enjoy cheddar in the Portland, Oregon area. Found learned to equally devour different similar cheddar when lived in Orlando, Florida in the late 80s and early 90s often from Costco then. When cook for a crowd: Cosco, Cash and Carry, and Sam's sell huge chunks of quality cheddar cheap. Usually do not eat enough to justify. Find if freeze even in a good freezer bags cheddar does not slice as well and curd texture will change. Fresh kept cold in fridge is better quality than the same is when frozen. So I buy only what use to maximize freshness while some cheeses including cheddar is often best with some age.

          There are better than the common options shared here above - many more expensive. Sometimes it is fun to splurge and try all kinds. Various parts of the country have different cheese. Around Wisconsin when travel, able to consume top quality cheddar cheese for a great price. Like Australian dry strong not too salty white dry tasty cheddar. Unfortunately do not see in Oregon so can not share brands or get here. While personally have never had mind blowing cheddar to splurge on over instead a then similar cost Pecorino Romano. I enjoy good Swiss, Roquefort, Feta, and other quality cheeses if splurge for more than the typical $5 or under per pound mostly under $3 per pound I spend for decent blue label Tillamook white cheddar to eat most often. Shopping is different all over and it often pays to seek out cheese deals. Fuel cost is a factor. Local availability, experience, access, and personal budget often defines our cheese experience then tastes. If try all kinds of cheddar will find your own favorites in the wide range of available kinds. Do look forward to reading what is shared by people all over about their cheddar.

          1. re: smaki

            Yesterday at local Albertsons bought Tillamook White Medium Cheddar Cheese in a blue wrapper 2 pound brick for $4.99 on sale for $5.99 with an additional $1.00 off because of a coupon in the local Albertsons mailer available at the store. All natural aged 100 days. Says best by Nov 12 2012 so no need to freeze and change the curd as will be gone way before then when it would have a chance to mold. Says to keep refrigerated. Bought three two pounders for $15. INGREDIENTS: Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes.

            1. re: smaki

              Because of everyone here, I just bought a block of Tillamook Extra Sharp here in NY when I saw it for sale at my local grocery. Like it was a treasure, haven't tasted yet but in the next half hour I'm breaking it out!

              1. re: coll

                Guess I'm used to creamy cheddar, it had a nice flavor but too crystalized for my tastes. And for "extra sharp" didn't think it had that much sharpness. Glad I got to try it though!

                1. re: coll

                  Trying new cheese is fun and we all have different tastes. First thought - something is wrong. What is the date on the side? Second thought, maybe it froze somehow or possibly was stored at an elevated temperature (for example, could have happened in shipping from Oregon to where you are in New York). When freeze a milk product like cheese it changes the texture (and elevated temp storage would form more crystals faster A way to tell if has been frozen or not is after freeze cheese unable to slice see through thin - so you may want to try that as a test on yours. Took some close up pictures showing detail when slicing cheese tonight to share for you to compare:


                  As to crystallized, was told once when eating 5 year aged cheddar it takes aging cheddar at least 7 years for crystals to form big time. Also have read crystals begin to form after 12 months so finding conflicting info on when crystals form in cheddar. It depends on factors like temperature, time, cheese type, etc. Maybe a cheese expert here on CHOW can share further information about crystal formation. Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp wrapped in black aged 15 months as can see in the third picture. My slice pictures seem not to show many crystals. Have had well aged cheddar that has a 'crunch' - and this here seems creamy not crunchy when eat it to me. The crystals are lactic acid that has converted into a crystallized form by a bacteria. Characterization of a Lactobacillus strain producing white crystals on cheddar cheese.

                  NOTE: Black Plastic Special Reserve Extra Sharp Tillamook normally $11.99 for 2 pounds has been on sale this last week at Safeway for $5.99 so bought several to stock up with a date of Nov 12 2013 on the side).

                  Do agree with you even Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp is not the sharpest tasting cheddar I've had. While is good for a reasonable price. For me I would like them to make Extra Sharp taste even sharper if anyone from the Tillamook Cheese Factory reads this.

                  Price is not a factor I feel the best Tillamook cheddar they call Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar and it is aged over two years: Not as sharp, but for a treat I also like their smoked cheddar: Have never tried the 3 Year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar and is on my list:

                  A few places to get high-end cheddar online are:

                  Widmer's ships older, crunchy cheddar. They list a 6 year old one here.

                  Sugar Bush Farm has 94-month cheddar (7.83 years).

                  Schultz's cheese haus has cheddars up to 15 years old.

                  1. re: smaki

                    Wow thanks for all that information! Mine is dated May 2013, and I can slice it relatively thin, considering I don't have a dedicated cheese slicer anymore. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was stored at an incorrect temp anyway; the store I found it at has very nice and unusual cheeses but is not a gourmet place by any means. Guess I'll be sticking with Vermont or English, and NYExtra Sharp when I'm being cheap. Then if I'm ever on the West Coast, I'll try it again. We used to love Crowley from Vermont, but watching our pennies right now.

                    1. re: coll

                      Here's a shot of my "thin" cheddar slices.

                    2. re: smaki

                      The crystals sometimes found in cheddar, or on the outside of cheddar, are calcium lactate, formed naturally when starter bacteria eat the lactose in the milk and ferment it into lactic acid, which then combines with the calcium in the milk. As cheeses age, they lose moisture and become firmer. As the cheese dries, the calcium lactate precipitates out and forms crystals, which is why this is a phenomenon noticed in aged cheddars, but not in younger ones. Clothbound cheddars (large wheels wrapped in muslin and covered with a fat, such as lard) form a natural rind and age differently from block cheddars, which have no rind. Clothbound cheddars can't be aged much longer than two years without beginning to lose quality, while block cheddars which are generally cryopacked, can be aged for fantastically long periods, up to 15 or even 20 years. Clothbound cheddars are aged in the open air on shelves and thus dry out faster than block cheddars, so they will form calcium lactate crystals much sooner.

                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                        I love those little crystals to pieces and will seek out cheddars with them -- extra crunch factor, mmmm. I think they show up from time to time in good parmesan also, no?

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            The crystals in Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged gouda are not the same. They are formed from tyrosine, an amino acid found in casein, the chief protein in cheese. Tyrosine crystals are distributed throughout the cheese, while calcium lactate crystals in cheddar are more abundant on or near the surface.

                            1. re: cheesemaestro

                              I had some 8 yr. old Beecher's White Cheddar recently that had the crystals throughout it, not just on the surface.

                    3. re: coll

                      Normally sharp IS indeed more likely than not somewhat crystal in bite. I'm more for the harder Cheeses (at least in recent years) so I'm all for the sharper ones. When it comes to buying a basic Cheddar of any brand, I really like to stick to/with the N.Y. Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheeses, ya see? I think that that tastes the best & has the best bite for a hard, easy to come by Cheese, so... Outside of that, when it comes to "specialty" Cheddar Cheeses, I recently enjoyed trying the Beecher's Flagship. Give it a shot!

                      1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                        I buy the NY Extra Sharp most of the time, especially when it's on sale, but I do like to experiment. Vermont is more creamy, and I do like some of the English imports too. They're mostly all good, each in their own way.

                        1. re: coll

                          Yeah, I'm always open to new things/types too.

          2. re: chrissy1988

            I was in the Tillamook camp until I got to Vermont and visited the Cabot Creamery. I am a big fan of well aged sharp cheddars and no longer need the yellow coloring of my youth. Both creameries use rich milk from their respective abundant dairy pasture lands. Last year I had the good fortune to find 50 year Anniversary Tillamook cheeses wheels. This 3 year old cheese was a full flavored well balanced extra sharp which showed off the abilities of these Oregon cheese masters. This was a better balanced extra sharp 36 month Tillamook than the easier to find 2 lb loaf. Aged Cabot cheddars can go a step farther and their 36 month or older cheddars develop a stronger sharp (bold and increasingly complex) flavors without any of the bitterness or off flavors found in some cheddars I have tasted . The cheeses aged 36 + months from Cabot develop progressive sharpness which I do enjoy. Decades ago I purchased a limited release Huntsman cheddar at the Cabot creamery which opened my mind to truly bold sharp cheese. This cheese had developed the large crystals of some aged cheddar. I was disappointed to learn that this was one of their cheeses made and in small batches a for limited release meaning hard to come by. The 36 month 2 ob loaf extra sharp cheeses are my standard for cheddars. This year we received a generous gift from Cabot (mail order) of a white cheddar aged for 5 years! Labeled Old School this is an example of the complexity brought about by aging cheddars. This rich cheese has only the suggestion of the crystals that form in the aging process and floods the palate with a symphony of flavors melding together with the bold notes balanced by the delicate background themes.
            On the other hand Tillamook cheeses melt smoothly when heated and have the finest mouth feel... The better cheese is the aged cheddar from either creamery on the plate in front of me at the time. I too endorse Tillamook and Cabot creamery sharp cheddars.

            1. re: chrissy1988

              Oh me too for both. The sharper flavors are really good.

              1. re: chrissy1988

                I'd agree with you on both. Grew up in California so preferred Tillamook then, but living in Connecticut now, I'd go for the Cabot.

                1. re: chrissy1988

                  I like Cabot's various cheddars. I usually buy reduced fat, but sometimes i have succumbed to the full fat very sharp. I also tried the special reserve (I think it is called) but found it not as great as I hoped.

                  There are some really good Irish imports. Look for the Kellygold line at your grocer's. There is a reduced fat, and some other sorts, all with a buttery flavor that I find irrestible.

                  I eat Tillamook a lot now because I have moved to the PNW. The cheese is good. For some reason I prefer Cabot's which isn't nearly as available here.

                  And, honestly Kraft makes a very good Cracker Barrel cheese. The sharper versions are quite good.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    Agreed: kerrygold and tilamook are good and widely available. I also agree that the Kraft Cracker Barrel sharp is solid if your budget or access dictates it. I have been known to use any of the three mentioned above from time-to-time.

                    1. re: MonMauler

                      I enjoy nearly all of the Kerry gold cheddars.

                    2. re: sueatmo

                      I agree that many Irish cheddars are good, but this week I bought some Isle of Mull cheddar and it was only average.

                      Cabot's cheeses can be found in many supermarkets and are usualy pretty good. Look for the black label aged cheddar, it is better than the standard variety.

                      1. re: DonShirer

                        I also had a Mull cheddar I didn't really care for Mull of Kintyre.

                        1. re: DonShirer

                          Tried Isle of Mull a second time. It was better than my first try. A reasonable choice, but B+, not A level.

                    3. The Rolls Royce of cheddars is the aged Jasper Hill/Cabot Clothbound. It's dryer and more crystalline, much like dry jack or parmesan. Fantastic cheese.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ferret

                        At my firm's holiday party this year, the outstanding lineup in the cheese room included the Cabot Clothbound, which I had never heard of. Really, really good.

                        1. re: Bob W

                          Agreed - Cabot Clothbound is an outstanding cheddar.

                          Of the more widely available varieties, Cabot's black-wax Private Stock 3-yr-old cheddar is my pick. Very sharp and big-flavored, but not at all harsh.

                      2. Grafton 2 yo from Vt. Great stuff. Not always easy to find but the Vt. Country Store in Shelburne probably is a good place to start. That is the one cheddar I never let run out.

                        1. Costco carries a good cheddar. About the size of a very small loaf of bread and wrapped in black wax. It's now our sandwich/burger favorite.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: escondido123

                            That's Cabot... Private Stock or 3 year aged. Excellent.

                            1. re: mcf

                              Tillamook wasn't satisfying my sharp cheddar cravings, so I recently ordered a bunch of Cabot and McCadam cheese from their site. I actually liked the uber-aged, wrapped in wax cheddar varieties less than the regular $3.50/pack extra-sharp cheddars. They were all delicious, it just surprised me that the really aged one wasn't my favorite.

                              While you're waiting for your Cabot cheese to arrive, you might want to pick up a pack of Dubliner cheese. It's usually with the imported cheese in the deli area of supermarkets. It's made by the same people who make Kerrygold.

                              1. re: AeroDoe

                                Oh, I LOVE Dubliner! Costco has big blocks of it. I'm not a cheddar snob, I love Kraft in the red foil, sharp, I think it is. But I also love Cabot and especially Black Diamond from Canada. I buy Dubliner and Cabot at Costco, no waiting. ;-)

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Dubliner is my favorite! And great on a sweet cracker.

                                  1. re: GreenDragon

                                    I was wondering if anyone would mention Dubliner. It is the cheddariest cheddar I know. Tillamook tastes like wax to me.

                                    I also like Beechers Flagship. I think they are not avail. nationwide though. It is a white cheddar.

                                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                      I believe Dubliner is a Kerrygold product. Very good cheese.

                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        Yes, I just bought a 2 lb block of Kerrygold Dubliner from Costco for $12.99. It's really delicious.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          Kerrygold makes an excellent Red Leicester. Rich, intense cheddar flavor. If you're into extra sharp cheddars, it's worth looking for.


                                  2. re: AeroDoe

                                    Funny, I just made a grilled cheese sandwich with sourdough and Dubliner. I confess, that I like Cabot better. Dubliner seems a little funkier. Not that I don't like funky cheese, but the Dubliner I found at Costco was a bit different. Anyone fond of the Rouge et Noir Camembert? Yum.

                                    1. re: bannarak10

                                      My favorite Rouge et Noir cheese is Schloss. It helps if it is a bit older. Great with dark beer.

                                  3. re: mcf

                                    I know this is an old post, but Costco sells the sharp Tillamook in a black wrapper, and it always makes its way into my cart

                                2. Old Quebec at your nearest cheeseshop.

                                  I recently tried a packaged British supermarket cheddar that I liked: Westminster Farmhouse aged more than 10 months. Unexpectedly good. According to their website, it is sold at some supermarkets.