Cheddar Cheese: What Makes it Taste Good?

If you’ve ever eaten cheddar cheese, then you know that it tastes pretty good. But what makes it taste that way? Is cheddar cheese sweet or salty? Why is it bitter?

How Long Does Cheddar Cheese Last?
How Long Does Cheddar Cheese Last?

In this blog post, we will explore the science behind cheddar cheese and why it tastes the way it does.

We will also discuss different types of cheddar cheese and how they differ in taste. So, let’s get started!

How does cheddar cheese taste good?

Most people say that cheddar cheese tastes sharp, tangy, salty, and a little bit acidic.

When cheddar cheese is young, it has a milder taste and when it ages, the flavor becomes sharper and more intense.

Cheddar cheese is made from milk, rennet, salt, and bacteria (starter culture). The bacteria produced enzymes that break down fats, proteins, and lactose during the aging stage, which gives cheddar cheese its characteristic sharp and nutty taste.

The type of bacteria used is one of the main factors that contribute to the taste of final cheddar cheese.

Some of the common bacteria strain added in the production of cheddar are Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis and Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris.

Others such as Streptococcus thermophilus impart a yogurt-like rich flavor while Lactobacillus helveticus gives it a more nutty taste.

The bacteria work together to produce volatile and non-volatile molecules which involved in flavor develpment.

Among the volatile molecules, acetic is the most abundant and responsible for the buttery flavor of cheddar cheese. Followed by the butyric and caprioc acids (1).

These appear to be indispensable to the cheddar’s distinct flavor. And the composition of these acids is the reason that makes cheddar brands and ages taste different from each other.

Some may also contain traces of propionic and caprylic acids.

On the other hand, lower quality of cheddar cheese with poor sanitary may lead to unclean flavors due to the undesirable growth of coliform bacteria – giving a rotten egg smell.

Other sulfur-containing compounds such as methanethiol (2) and dimethyl sulfide (3) are also present in small concentrations and contribute to the characteristic “stinky feet” smell of cheddar cheese.

This definitely adds some kicks to it.

Why Cheddar is Bitter?

Apart from the bacteria, some rennets (or excessive usage of it) can cause bitterness flavor in the cheese too. The proteolytic activities hydrolyze caseins will produce bitter peptides (4).

Too much bitterness in cheddar is not desirable as it will ruin the taste. That’s why manufacturers are using extracted enzymes that have little or no bitterness at all these days.


Is Cheddar Cheese Sweet?

Yes, cheddar cheese is creamy and can be described to have a slightly sweet taste. Acetoin is a product of citrate by lactic acid bacteria which will give a slightly sweet, butter-like flavor.

Is Cheddar Cheese Salty?

Yes, cheddar cheese is salty because it contains salt. The amount of salt in cheddar cheese can vary depending on the brand and variety of the cheese.

For example, the Kraft ChedaSharp has 460 mg of sodium content while the Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar only has 200 mg of sodium for the same serving size. So, it’s much saltier!

The age did not usually affect the saltiness of the cheese.


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