Well over 200 years ago, back in England where Cheddar originated, the colour of milk found in cheese meant a lot more than today. Back then, people valued the darker yellowish taint of the milk coming from a cow’s diet in the summer and spring over the fall and winter months. Summer milk had more fat and a naturally occurring darker yellow colour derived from the beta-caroten found in the fresh grass eaten in the summer. This preference became a perfect catalyst for making all cheddar cheese more uniform in colour, with this taint of yellowish, that became more prominent over time, enhancing the positive perceived value of the so-loved cheddar. This is all it took in order to convince a nation, and soon other countries, to look for coloured Cheddar year-round. Little did they know that they were introduced to one of the best natural colouring agent for cheese, commonly known as Annatto. Annatto is the name given to seeds from the achiote tree, commonly found in Central and South America.
Annatto is used in concentrated liquid form and does not bring any additional flavour or aroma to the cheese. A very small quantity of annatto is added to the milk before it is transformed and fermented into cheese.
Today, in Canada, North America, and in many other countries, it is tradition and normal to consume orange cheddar. Do you have a preference for white, orange or marbled Cheddar?