Cheddar Cheese originated in the middle ages in the village of Cheddar in Somerset, south-west England. The Cheddar Gorge, on the edge of the village, contains a number of caves which provided the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese. It was made using a unique process called “cheddaring,” in which the cheese curds are allowed to sit together (and are sometimes even stacked into towers) after they coagulate. While this story sounds very much like that of many Protected by Origin cheeses (think Roquefort or Camembert), because England experienced an early industrialization of its dairy industry, cheddar cheese never gained a protected status. Today any cheese maker can call their cheese a cheddar if they feel like it, whether it was made through 'cheddaring' or not.
One of the biggest differences between traditional English cheddar and the American variety is the way that the cheeses are aged. English cheddar is normally cylindrical in shape, bound in permeable cheesecloth, and its flavors range from earthy to nutty to caramelized. The Puritans, who emigrated from England in the 1600's, originally aged their cheeses the same way their countrymen across the Atlantic did, wrapped in cotton. However, they soon discovered that cheddars aging through New England summers required more protection than a wrapper of cloth could provide.
Early Americans began searching for ways to further protect their cheeses. They began by smearing the surface of the cheese with butter. Over time this practice evolved through the use of lard and then paraffin. Finally, once the petroleum industry lead to plentiful and cheap wax, waxed cheddar cheeses were born.
The longer a cheddar is aged, the “sharper” it becomes. British cheese seems to have a richer depth of flavor and is often served with tomato chutney and a thick slice of bread or cheese crackers.
The word chutney is derived from an Indian word 'chatni' which means crushed. During the British Colonial era soldiers and their families that lived in India learned to appreciate the unique flavors of Indian foods like curries and chutneys. As these soldiers moved from country to country they took their love for chutney with them, introducing it to South Africa, the Caribbean, and their homeland in Great Britain.
Since many of the countries they were sent to didn't have the same fruits, spices, and herbs as those available in India the chutneys began to take on regional flavors as native people and cultures used the ingredients available to them. In Britain, there is little sun to ripen tomatoes, so green tomatoes where used and Green Tomato Chutney was born.
Tina’s Traditional® - Grandma's Green Tomato Chutney
makes 2 pints
Roughly chop 2lbs green tomatoes
Peel & chop 1/2lb apples
Peel and chop 1/2lb onions
De-seed and chop 6 dried hot chilies
Place everything in large jam pan
Add 4oz golden raisins
Add ½ lb brown sugar
Add 1 teaspoon salt
Add ½ pint apple cider vinegar
Bring to a boil
Add lid and simmer until thick and pulpy (2-3 hrs)