If you shop at any grocery store in America, you are sure to find a block of Colby cheese somewhere in the store. So what is Colby cheese all about? First, it is named after the town in which it was first created, Colby, Wisconsin. It is very similar to cheddar cheese, but it does not undergo the cheddaring process. It is made in much the same way that Monterrey Jack cheese is made. You often find Colby and Monterrey jack, swirled together in a mixture known as colby-jack or co-jack.
Colby is all about enjoying with your favorite cracker or other snack. It is mild in flavor, so it is not strong enough to use in cooking applications. There are two reasons why it is mild cheese. First, the whey is replaced by water in the process of making the cheese. This reduces the overall acidity of the final product. Second, Colby is normally sold without it being aged like Cheddar. I did however discover that some places are selling an Aged Colby, which is quite sharp. However when Colby ages it gets drier, so you will find that any Aged Colby is going to have a more crumbly texture.
Next time your at the local mega mart, do some exploring. Don't just settle for the Kraft brand or store brand colby. I find those lack the true Colby flavor and are hard to differentiate from a mild cheddar. See what else is out there. A good Colby is a treasure when you find it. My all time favorite Colby is one that is made by Widmer's. I first tried this cheese on a visit to Madison, Wisconsin. It's one of those food experiences that has stuck with me.