Last week I told you that the taste test this week would be looking at chocolate, which, I suppose, proves I am a filthy liar. This week, I am looking at mature cheddar cheese. I decided that after the massive chocolate-fest that was my Paul A. Young review a couple of days ago, it was time to mix it up.

In the interests of fairness, I tried to choose cheeses here that were as equivalent as possible: all of these were rated 5, so you’d expect a sharp and mature cheese with a strong flavour. That said, there isn’t that much regulation. These days, cheddar cheese doesn’t actually have to be from Cheddar, as it’s not a protected term, although this tasting process has made me quite keen to actually go to the town of Cheddar and see how their cheese compares. Because that’s the kind of thing I find fun. Because I’m quite sad.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of cheddar or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which supermarket had made A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Cheddar Cheese

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Cheddar Cheese
per 100g
£*
kcal
fat
carb
fibre
protein
salt
Aldi
0.60
416
35.0
<0.5
<0.5
25.0
1.8
Lidl
0.92
410
34.4
0
0
25.0
1.8
Sainsburys
0.74
410
34.4
<0.5
<0.5
25.0
1.68
Tesco
 1.33
416
34.9
0.1
0
25.4
1.8
Waitrose
1.25
416
34.9
0.1
0
25.4
1.8

A – Sainsburys – 5/10

  • Soft, pliable texture – not very crumbly, a bit plastic-y. Perhaps good for melting, but not ideal for grating, as it’s quite soft. Decent flavour. Sharp taste, seems like a standard mature cheddar, but nothing exceptional and a disappointing texture.

B – Lidl – 8/10

  • Crumbly, firm: a good texture with a little bit of delicious salty crunchiness from tyrosine crystals, which you can often find in matured cheeses. A lovely strong, interesting flavour – sharp, but not sour. My favourite.

C – Tesco – 3/10

  • Another crumbly cheddar with a decent texture, but no crystals from maturation. Not a great flavour – almost sour, and a bit unpleasant. Not a fan.

D – Aldi – 4/10

  • On the soft and bendy end of the cheddar cheese spectrum. Weaker and milder than the first cheeses, which is a shame for a mature cheddar. A rather strange aftertaste, almost like melon, which isn’t unpleasant in itself but seems odd for cheese.

E – Waitrose – 7/10

  • Another cheddar that’s nicely firm and crumbly in texture, not at all plastic-y, with a lovely crunchiness to it. Strong and sharp in flavour: a decent cheddar that I’d happily eat on its own. The only cheddar that came with a resealable pack, which is handy.

Conclusion

The cheddar from Lidl was so tasty that I absent-mindedly continued to eat it after I’d finished the actual taste test. I was surprised by how much the cheeses varied in taste and texture, because if you look at them in terms of caloric content and the levels of fat, protein, salt and so on, they are nearly identical. I rarely buy supermarket cheddar cheese to eat on its own: if I were buying cheese as a treat for the sake of eating cheese after a meal I’d get it from a the Jericho Cheese Company if possible. Cheddar cheeses like these in this house tend to be an ingredient in another dish rather than the star of the show. That said, I’d definitely buy the Lidl cheese just for the sake of eating it.

*Prices correct at time of writing.