Cheddar is a low-moisture hard-pressed cheese that originated in Somerset, England. The historical development of Cheddar from traditional farm production in the 16th century to industrial-scale manufacture has been reviewed by Rance (1). Cheddar cheese is produced extensively throughout the world today. The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand are the main producers (2,3). During 1999 the total production of Cheddar worldwide exceeded 1.9 million tons.

Cheddar cheese is produced by the coagulation of cow's milk with rennet. Acid production during manufacture is achieved by use of mesophilic type O cultures of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis and Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris. The principal function of the starter is the uniform production of lactic acid at a predictable rate to ensure that quality cheese is produced. Control of lactic acid production during Cheddar manufacture is essential in ensuring that the level of chymosin retention in curd is optimum for flavor and texture development during maturation; curd strength is optimum for cutting and yield potential of milk is realized; moisture expulsion by syneresis proceeds at the correct rate and satisfactory moisture levels are achieved in the final cheese; and the dissolution of colloidal calcium phosphate is optimum for rheology and texture of the cheese (4). The starter culture in Cheddar manufacture also has an important role in the development of the typical flavor and aroma during maturation, and this is due mainly to proteolytic activity (5). Cheddar is matured for periods from 3 to 18 months, but extended maturation periods of up to 2 years or more may be used in production of specialist cheeses.

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