Why Does Cheddar Cheese Crumble? (Explained!)

You may well wonder, why does Cheddar cheese crumble?

But, then again, you may have even noticed that some varieties of cheddar cheese tend to crumble more than others.

Surely all cheddar cheese should be consistent in terms of taste and texture.

However, this isn’t always the case.

It’s so confusing, isn’t it?

So, allow me to explain why cheddar cheese crumbles (and why some varieties don’t).

Cheddar cheese crumbles due to its relatively low moisture content and protein structure. As cheddar ages, it loses moisture, which causes the proteins to bind together more tightly. This results in a firmer texture that is more prone to crumbling when cut or sliced, especially in the case of aged or extra-sharp cheddar varieties.

1. Does Less Moisture Equal More Crumble?

Before I get to discussing why cheddar cheese crumbles, there’s something you should know.

A cheese, any cheese, will be crumblier if it contains less moisture.

Basically, all cheeses, irrespective of variety, will contain a certain percentage of water.

And the lower the percentage of water, the more likely that the cheese will be crumbly.

This also explains why some cheeses are classed as hard cheeses, whereas others are soft cheeses.

Okay, I’ll admit there is slightly more to it than that, and I’ll cover this in just a moment.

However, most hard cheeses (including cheddar) will typically contain 36-43% water.

But, soft cheese varieties, such as brie or mozzarella, will generally have over 50% water content.

In fact, regular mozzarella has 60% water content.

With that being said, there is slightly more to the cheddar cheese crumbly scenario.

2. What is the “Cheddaring” Process

Cheese is basically made by purposely curdling milk.

This then produces curds.

And just in case you weren’t aware, whey is the liquid that remains once the curdled milk has been strained.

“Cheddaring” is the process used to create cheddar cheese, which basically involves cutting the curds again and over again.

And it is actually the curds that will form the “brick” of cheese.

The curds are cut into tiny squares and then stacked over-and-over again for a specific period of time.

The curds must be kept at an even temperature throughout this process, which mustn’t exceed 100F.

This will ensure that moisture is reduced in the cheddar, while keeping the taste and texture even.

A knife is then inserted into the block to check if the curds have a glassy texture.

If so, the curds are ready to be stacked and then pressed with weight.

The process is repeated until a block of cheddar that we are accustomed to seeing is formed.

However, the more often that the cheddar is pressed with weight, the more moisture will be removed.

And as you now know, the less moisture in the cheese, the more crumbly it will be.

How to Separate Curds From Whey

3. What is the Difference Between Mild and Mature Cheddar?

Now, you may have noticed that some varieties of cheddar appear to be more crumbly than others.

This actually has to do with how long the cheese is aged for.

In effect, the longer a cheese is aged, the more moisture will be removed, and therefore the more crumbly it will be.

So, a mild cheddar is actually quite immature in terms of ageing, so it will have less “bite”, thus producing a milder flavor.

Plus, you’ll generally notice that mild cheddar has far less of a crumble to it.

With that being said, a mature cheddar is aged for much longer.

In fact, a mature cheddar can even be aged for up to 12 years.

And you’ll notice that mature cheddar is usually much more crumbly than a mild cheddar.

Furthermore, the crumbliness (or lack) of a mature cheddar will give you an idea of how long it has been aged.

In general, a mild cheddar will have been aged for 2-3 months, whereas a mature cheddar is aged for 16-24 months.

But, don’t forget, there are some extremely crumbly mature cheddar varieties that have been aged for much longer.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, the crumbliness of cheddar cheese (and any cheese for that matter) comes down to how much moisture there is in it.

Basically, the less moisture, the more likely a cheese is to crumble.

This is why soft cheeses aren’t crumbly at all, as they have a much higher water content.

Furthermore, the more aged a cheddar cheese is, the crumblier it will be.

And this is why you’ll typically notice that a mature cheddar cheese is more likely to crumble than a mild cheddar cheese.

While we are on the subject of the texture of cheese, have you ever wondered why melted Cheddar goes oily?

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