Orange cheddars are colored with annatto, a natural dye. Canadian cheddars are smoother, creamier, and are known for their balance of flavor and sharpness. Cheddars vary in flavor depending on the length of aging and their origin. As cheddar slowly ages, it loses moisture and its texture becomes drier and more crumbly. Sharpness becomes noticeable at 12 months (old cheddar) and 18 months (extra old cheddar). The optimal aging period is 5-6 years; however, for most uses three-year-old cheese is fine and five-year-old cheddar can be saved for special occasions.
- The cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 miles (48 km) of Wells Cathedral.
- Romans may have brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France.