The Good: May zest up dishes that require standard cheddar cheese, Melts well
The Bad: Not as flavorful as I would like, Cooking with it may be problematic
The Basics: While Yancey’s Fancy cheese company ought to be applauded for its creativity, the Peppadew Cheddar Cheese is not a great cheddar.
As I near completion of the catalog of Jelly Belly jelly beans that there are to review, my wife and I have been looking to other foods I may write about that I love. For those who do not know me, there are two things about my dining habits that are worth sharing: 1. There is no such thing as too much gravy and 2. I could live on cheese and tea for about a thousand years. So as I have begun to stretch my reviewing wings, I’m going today with my review of Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar.
My wife and I encountered Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew New York Cheddar Cheese at one of the nicer grocery stores and it seemed a bit pricey to me at $10.99/lb. So, when I was wandering our local grocery store a few days later and saw a manager’s special on a block I was pretty thrilled. My wife was pleasantly surprised with a block of the cheese and I was glad to have something new to try. There is an irony with the Peppadew cheese, though, and that is that my final verdict on it was that is a far better component (ingredient) than it is a culinary treat on its own.
Yancey’s Fancy is a manufacturer of Artisan Cheeses here in upstate New York. The intent of most Yancey’s Fancy cheeses is that they will be cheeses that hold their own as snacks that may be served to consumers in fancier settings. They specialize in cheddar cheeses that have different flavors infused into them: champagne, jalapeno, various nuts, etc. Yancey’s Fancy cheeses come in wheels (usually ten or twenty pounds each) and most stores chop the wheels into blocks. On-line, it is fairly easy to find the cheese in one pound blocks.
Peppadew is a pasteurized process cheddar cheese that is flavored with sweet picante peppers. As it turns out, “Peppadew” is a trademarked brand name for one company’s sweet picante peppers. They apparently have an agreement with Yancey’s Fancy Cheese Company and they are used to flavor the cheddar that bears its name. Mixed throughout the white cheddar block of Peppadew Cheddar are the actual Peppadew picante peppers. Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar comes encased in a soft red wax which allows the cheese to maintain its shape and solid state. The red wax helps consumers distinguish it from other flavors of Yancey’s Fancy cheese.
Ease Of Preparation
Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar is a cheese, so more often than not, it is used on its own or as an ingredient in a recipe. Preparation of the cheese is pretty simple: if it has been purchased in a smaller quantity than the entire wheel, remove the plastic wrap it is sealed in. When that is done, simply peel back the wax coating on the outer edges. This happens with remarkable ease. The Peppadew cheddar cheese seems to not adhere to the wax. This makes it a very easy cheese to separate from the wax coating and it may be placed on a cutting block or plate ready to be cut!
More than most cheddar cheeses, Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar is characterized by a softness that makes it problematic to work with. My cheese plane pulls quite a bit before it is able to slice this cheese. Similarly, the Peppadew has a lot of “give” when the cheese cleaver tries to cut it. It is not ideal for shredding, both because of the peppers inside and the softness of the cheese (harder, sharper cheddars tend to be the ideal for that).
The irony here is that when the cheese is sliced or shredded, it melts beautifully, making it an ideal ingredient to make flavorful omelets or to replace a standard cheddar cheese in dishes like macaroni and cheese. Working with the cheese might be a pain, but it is delicious when melted into sandwiches, eggs or even a cream sauce (to make a cheese sauce). Indeed, when I surprised my partner with this cheese, it was in an omelet and I was surprised by how completely it melted and how the peppers blended perfectly with the actual cheese to create a homogenous taste experience.
On its own, the Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar Cheese has a scent dominated by the red peppers. In fact, melted or solid, all this cheese smells like is red peppers. It actually maintains a scent of very fresh peppers and for those who know what fresh vegetables smell like when they are being worked with, that gives an ideal frame of reference for the bouquet of this cheese. It smells like fresh peppers, nothing more, nothing less.
This prepares the consumer for the taste of the Peppadew Cheddar as well. The soft, mild cheddar cheese melts away like margarine on the tongue, leaving only the taste of the red peppers lingering. The cheese itself has a slight grain to it, but it is mostly smooth and milky and it dissolves easily as the tongue pushes through it. Unfortunately, it is a remarkably mild cheddar and it has almost no flavor. The aftertaste of the cheddar the peppers float in is sour for about half a second and that’s it. There is no zest, no spice (pun intended) to the Peppadew Cheddar.
The Peppadew Sweet Picante Peppers get lost within the cheese, unfortunately. As a result, the cheese has more texture than it has flavor in its cool or room temperature form. If one gets a particularly large piece of pepper (most are essentially shavings of peppers a centimeter square) the pepper may maintain a bit of sweetness and the fruity flavor of a sweet red pepper. But mostly, on their own in the cheese, the peppers are decoration.
Where the peppers come alive is when the cheese is melted. The Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar releases the full flavor of the peppers when the cheese is melted. When that happens, the taste of sweet peppers permeates the cheese, like the way mushrooms absorb the flavor of garlic in a saute. The cheese then becomes a medium to pass on the pepper flavor and those who like the fruit flavor of peppers will enjoy the cheese then. Unfortunately, those looking for a cheese flavor will still be disappointed by it.
Yancey’s Fancy New York Artisan Cheeses are not intended to be all that one lives on. But for those who try, the Peppadew Cheddar is a particularly poor choice. The peppers do not seem to add anything of note to the cheese of nutritional value (this cheese has 6% of the RDA of Vitamin A, which seems to set it apart from most other cheeses). A serving size is considered a one inch block (1 oz.). In that, there are 110 calories, 80 of which are from fat. This cheese has 25% of one’s daily recommended saturated fat intake and 11% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 20% of the RDA of calcium and has six grams of protein.
Obviously, Peppadew Cheddar is a dairy product, so those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of aged cheddar cheese, Peppadew sweet picante peppers, and trisodium citrate. That makes it mostly natural, but it does have the preservative.
As a cheese, Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar should be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several weeks (this is problematic for me to evaluate; we received ours as a manager’s special; it has a week before it expired when we bought it. Even so, in the week before it expired, we used it and noticed no difference in the quality of the cheese. So long as it is kept in an airtight, cold environment, it ought to remain fresh and supple.
Peppadew Cheddar is a cheese, so it is not going to stain or ruin anything unless it is ground into a fabric. Baring that, cleanup of nonporous surfaces is as easy as wiping them with a damp cloth.
I love cheese and Yancey’s Fancy Peppadew Cheddar Cheese was a big disappointment. The cheddar is not flavorful enough and the peppers are not robust enough on their own to make the cheese interesting or worth picking up, save on a discount. And while it melted wonderfully, the peppers in the cheese may cause complications when this cheese is used as an ingredient. There are better cheeses out there to return to and enjoy.
For other Yancey's Fancy cheese reviews, please check out my takes on:
Chive Cheddar Cheese Curds
NY Maple Cheddar
Strawberry Chardonnay Cheddar
XXX Sharp Cheddar
Wasabi Horseradish Cheddar
Champagne Aged Cheddar
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my index page!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.