Learn about what New Zealand cheddar is like in the United States, where to get it, and how to use it.
Is there a significant difference?
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When it comes to cheese, I think cheddar is where it's at.
No doubt it's the most popular cheese in America (don't even try to convince on "American cheese")
I love to try different types of cheddar. There is an endless amount of options out there.
Our family fell in love with the Mainland Cheese New Zealand Cheddar by buying it when it was on sale at Whole Foods for $3.99 a pound.
❔ What is the Difference?
The biggest difference right off the bat is the color. A lot of American made cheddar cheese is yellow/orange. For some reason - I will get to that a moment - we feel the need to add coloring to our cheese that isn't naturally there. I have heard cheesemakers around the world mocking us for that - and probably rightfully so.
The cheese is made orange by the flavorless Annatto seed.
New Zealand cheddar is light yellow cheese. This is because it comes from cow that are grass fed. The milk picks up the beta carotene from the cow's diet. If the cows are fed most grains then the milk they produce will not have that coloring in it.
🟠 Why is American Cheddar Orange?
There was a great story done by NPR that explain our obsession with orange cheese. Here is a quote below from the story. You can read the whole story - after finishing this post of course 🙂 - by clicking on the link below.
Cheese expert Paul Kindstedt of the University of Vermont explains that back in the 17th century, many English cheesemakers realized that they could make more money if they skimmed off the cream — to sell it separately or make butter from it.
But in doing so, most of the color was lost, since the natural orange pigment is carried in the fatty cream.
So, to pass off what was left over — basically low-fat cheese made from white milk — as a high-quality product, the cheesemakers faked it.How 17th Century Fraud Gave Rise To Bright Orange Cheese (NPR.org)
The reason why our cheese is orange? Fraud.
This doesn't mean that all orange cheese is of low quality now. I have had plenty of American made orange cheese that was pretty good. I don't think it's quality issue as much now as it has become tradition.
👅 What Does NZ Cheddar Taste Like?
This is going to refer to the New Zealand cheddar I have eaten in America. In New Zealand itself you may find different aged cheddar just like you would here. My experience with New Zealand cheddar is that it has had a sharp flavor, but not really sharp cheddar. Most likely aged in the range of 9-12 months.
At this point the cheddar has a smooth texture with a buttery finish. It is not too dry. I am not a real sharp cheddar, so this is as sharp as I would go for straight up eating.
💡 Shopping Tips
If you want to know if you have good quality New Zealand cheddar in your hands, look for a yellowish color. This indicated the cheese was made with quality milk, from grass-fed cows. Don't be shy to ask for a sample whenever you are shopping.
💲 Average Price
I found the price of New Zealand cheddar to range from as low as $3.99 a pound when on sale up to $9.99/lb at a more high end store.
Can you find it certified organic? Yes, I have seen pictures of the Mainland brand with the USDA organic logo on the label. I haven't tried it myself.
If you have a recipe that calls specially for New Zealand cheddar and you can't find any, look for any medium to sharp grass fed white cheddar in the range of 6-12 months old.
🍴 Mac & Cheese?
Absolutely! I love it using it for mac & cheese.
The cheese melts well and is sharp enough to provide the flavor you want. I highly recommend giving it a try.
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🛒 Where to Buy
Here are some stores that I have seen/heard carry New Zealand cheddar in the United States.
- Whole Foods Market
- Trader Joe's
- The Fresh Market
- Sam's Club
Don't have one of these stores in your area? Or looking to have it send right to your door. You can order New Zealand cheddar via Amazon.
🧀 Learn More About Cheese
Here are some other cheese you might want to learn more about
🍎 New Zealand Apples
Want to pair some apples with your NZ cheddar? Give these New Zealand grown varieties a try.
Let us know where you are buying New Zealand cheddar. Leave a comment below and help expand our store listings.