Do you always go for the same brand of cheese or are you tempted by the ubiquitous supermarket special offers?
I’ve always enjoyed a tasty, mature cheddar, and on a visit to the supermarket, there never seems to be a shortage of options of mature, extra-mature, vintage, cave-aged and so on.
But before I got involved in our latest cheddar taste test, my method of choosing cheese was to ignore the varied selection and instead always go for a special offer. Due to this, I’d end up, more often than not, with two big blocks for the price of one.
I’m not alone, of course – when we surveyed 1,128 Which? members, we found that more than a quarter were frequently tempted along the offer route.
The good news is that if you do buy in bulk, you can freeze cheese and eat it at your leisure. According to the experts, if you defrost cheddar slowly in a fridge, then this helps reduce any tendency for it to become over crumbly.
Wouldn’t you like their job?
Five experts took part in our recent taste test – of cheddar and parmesan. Between them they have well over a century’s worth of experience in the cheese industry. And they weren’t just experts - they clearly love their jobs.
So they crumbled, crunched and chewed their way through our blind test of 14 premium extra mature and vintage cheddars, as well as seven wedges of premium parmesan.
Cheddar – should it crackle and crunch?
We’re a nation of cheese lovers and, while we do eat plenty of blue cheese and both hard and soft continental cheeses, cheddar is firmly in the lead in the popularity stakes.
But our tastes are evolving, as new-style ‘sweeter’ and crunchy cheddars make their mark.
If you’ve noticed white bits on the surface or inside your cheese, this may not be mould (it might be), but could be either calcium lactate or tyrosine crystals, both of which can be encouraged by the cheese-making process.
These give some cheddars, such as Davidstow Cornish Crackler, Castello Tickler, M&S Cornish Cruncher and Waitrose Cornish Quartz – which were all in our taste test – their gritty crunch.
Go to our cheese taste test results to find out if our experts were impressed by any of these. As for me, I found a clear favourite among the 14 cheddars on test, and will be sticking to it – for now at least.
How do you decide what cheese to buy? Are you loyal to your brand or do you love sniffing out a bargain? Is there a particular type – Cheshire, Wensleydale or Red Leicester – that always gets your vote? What about freezing cheese – have you ever tried it? Have you found freezing cheese deteriorates or changes it at all?