The Good: Melts well, Tastes delicious, Nothing truly bad in it, Reasonably priced, Fairly easy to work with
The Bad: Could use just a touch more on the sharp side for when used as an ingredient!.
The Basics: Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese comes close to being an ideal cheddar, save when it is used in a component (ingredient) in dishes, where its flavor cannot compete.
For the housewarming party that my wife and I had yesterday, we needed some cheese for the cheese and cracker platter. While I am usually a fan of Yancey’s Fancy cheddars or Cabot Seriously Sharp (Extra Extra Sharp) Cheddar, the best we could find in our area was Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it held its own on its own and crackers, but when I used it in macaroni and cheese, it was not sufficiently sharp to leave me impressed enough to as enthusiastically recommend it. However, given that my only other experience with Cabot (as far as reviewing goes) so far has been the Smoky Bacon Cheddar (reviewed here!), the Extra Sharp Cheddar remains a much more consistent staple cheddar.
I found Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese at our local grocery store where it was one of the more reasonably priced brand-named cheddars at $8.99 for the two pound block.
Cabot is a manufacturer of cheddar cheeses and other cheeses in Vermont, at the Cabot Creamery Cooperative. The Creamery has been in business since 1919 and its cheeses tend to be found in large blocks. On-line, it is fairly easy to find the cheese in one pound blocks, though where we bought our Extra Sharp Cheddar we were able to find it in a larger, two pound bulk size. Since purchasing it, we have sampled it on its own, in omelets with other meats and vegetables, in macaroni and cheese, and on sandwiches (hot and cold!). This is a pretty delicious culinary treat!
The Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese is exactly as its name implies. This is a harder white.
Ease Of Preparation
Cabot Extra Sharp 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: unwrap it from the plastic wrapper, cut off a chunk or slice and consume! This makes it a very easy cheese to prepare!
Unlike many sharp cheddar cheeses, Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar has no problems with workability. It may be sliced, shredded or cut without fracturing, so long as it is kept sealed prior to that. As long as this cheese does not dry out, it does not become brittle.
As well, when the cheese is sliced, it melts beautifully with wonderful evenness and liquidity, making it an ideal ingredient to make flavorful omelets. It also melts just fine for cheese sauces, like in macaroni and cheese. It is delicious when melted into sandwiches or eggs and has no real workability issues.
On its own, the Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese smells like sharper cheddars do; it’s an aromatic, sour-smelling cheese that stabs at the nostrils, The aroma is inviting to anyone who loves cheese, though I am told it may be offputting to those whose experiences are solely with weaker cheddars. I think there is a slight (clean) foot smell to it, but I like that from my cheeses!
The initial aroma adequately prepares the consumer for the taste of the Extra Sharp Cheddar. Cabot’s Extra Sharp Cheddar is tangy and a little salty. As the cheese moves to the back of the tongue, it reveals a sour kick that is potent and delicious. The sourness is almost reminiscent of a processed wine cheese, though this is distinctly cheddar in the rest of flavoring.
Cabot's Extra Sharp Cheddar is robust when melted, save when it is melted into something (like a cream sauce). In my cream sauce, the milk and flour very effectively cut the sour flavor and the only benefit of that was that it killed the aftertaste. The aftertaste of this cheese lingers for a good five to ten minutes and it is an unpleasantly sour aftertaste.
Cabot Cheeses are not intended to be all that one lives on, though the Extra Sharp Cheddar is delicious enough to want to. For those who try to live on Cabot cheese, the Extra Sharp Cheddar is a poor choice. A serving size is considered a one inch cube (1 oz.). In that, there are 110 calories, 80 of which are from fat. This cheese has 30% of one's daily recommended saturated fat intake and 8% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 20% of the RDA of calcium and has seven grams of protein.
Obviously, Extra Sharp Cheddar is a dairy product and is marked as kosher dairy as it does not have animal rennet in the ingredients. Obviously, those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, and salt. The ingredients in this cheese are all natural.
As a cheese, Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar must be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several months and it should be sealed once it is opened. Our block, purchased at the beginning of October, had a June 2013 expiration date.
Extra Sharp 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. It may leave grease stains on lighter or papery surfaces, it if warms up on them.
Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar is delightful and easy to work with; all that robs it of perfection is its lack of ability to adequately flavor when used in dishes where it is a significant ingredient and a selling point of the dish!
For other cheese reviews, please check out:
Yancey's Fancy Peppadew Cheddar
Denmark's Finest Havarti Dill
Emmi Cave Aged Kaltbach Le Gruyere
For other food and drink reviews, please be sure to check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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