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I love cheddar cheese. One of my favorite types is Cabot Clothbound which is made by Jasper Hill Farm.

Usually when I get it, the cheese is nice and flaky, but other times it is crumbly. It seems to be a characteristic of the wheel; either the wheel is crumbly or flaky. I notice that the nice flaky wheels tend to have a rounder, more husky flavor, but the crumbly wheels are more cheddary and tart.

What is the reason for this? I have three possible theories:

  • Milk has seasonal differences, so cheddar made from spring milk, may be different than cheddar made from autumn milk

  • The crumbly wheels are not being turned and fatted correctly. Cheddar must be regularly turned and greased with lard, maybe this is not happening on schedule.

  • Humidity is incorrect and the crumbly wheel is being allowed to dry too much either because the aging cellar is too dry or because the wheel is being stored outside the cellar in a dry place.

Does anyone have ideas as to the cause of the crumbly cheddar according to one of my theories or another theory altogether?

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As cheddar ages it naturally dries out more and becomes crumbly. Most traditional hard cheeses show this sort of texture change.

  • Wouldn't the humidity of the cheese be a controllable variable? Don't they age cheeses in humidified cellars for that exact reason? – Drisheen Colcannon Nov 17 '15 at 21:18
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    Traditional cheddar is aged in caves. There is a certain amount of control just by picking the location, but the drying of the cheese is an important part of the process. Cheese is a living thing and each cheese can be slightly different. – user23614 Nov 17 '15 at 21:28
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheese_crystals could be very relevant in making the difference. – rackandboneman Nov 18 '15 at 23:08
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+50

I've seen a few reasons for this given.

One I've seen says that the details such as acidity and temperature during creation can be a cause of unwanted texture.

Another says that the moisture removal during the aging and cheddaring process can also cause the same. Being frozen in particular can cause unwanted crumbliness.

The FAQ of Cabot Cheeses also says the same about being frozen (they suggest the shipping process may be to blame for that).

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After more experience I am pretty sure that the answer to this question is that it is seasonal. It is the spring cheddar from grass-fed cows that is soft, crumbly and has a bright flavor. Cheese made from fodder-fed cows has the nice flaky, husky taste.

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