The Good: Inexpensive (comparatively), Does not taste bad, Easy to work with
The Bad: Poor melting quality, Not the most vibrant flavor
The Basics: Williams Smoked Cheddar is a bit of a disappointment, especially for those looking for a vibrant and enjoyable cheese.
There is something wonderful about getting to the point where one's palate is refined enough that one may instantly tell the difference between cheese and "cheese product" or "cheese food." Sadly, I tend not to look so closely when I am buying cheese, which I discovered when my wife and I sat down to our New Year's celebration and broke out the Williams Smoked Cheddar, which we had been saving for the event. Williams Smoked Cheddar is a pasteurized process cheese food and the difference between it and cheddar cheese is unfortunately noticeable the moment one places it in their mouth. That does not make Williams Smoked Cheddar inherently bad, but when one is expecting steak and they get ground chuck . . . Williams Smoked Cheddar is, expectations aside, an underwhelming cheese food.
I found Williams Smoked Cheddar cheese at the grocery store on sale at $3.99 for the 8 oz. block right after Christmas and in retrospect, I feel like we overpaid for it!
Williams is a manufacturer of cheeses and cheese foods in Michigan. The intent of most Williams 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, like ranch. Williams cheeses come in 8 oz. blocks and they are fairly easy to find in that form.
The Smoked Cheddar cheese is exactly as its name implies. This is a dark orange cheese without any garnishes, additional flavors or embedded spices.
Ease Of Preparation
Williams Smoked Cheddar cheese is a cheese food, 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: remove the plastic wrap it is sealed in and cut into it. The Smoked Cheddar cheese is exceptionally easy to work with. This cheese handles exceptionally easily, slicing simply with my cheese plane or grating finely with our cheese grater. Unfortunately, though, it does not melt very well. My wife and I have made our rare burgers medium well by trying to get the thin slices of Williams Smoked Cheddar we have put on them to melt!
On its own, the Williams Smoked Cheddar cheese has an appropriately smoky, hickory scent to it. The smell evokes mental images of fires and warm places. The smoke scent is distinct and fairly mild, especially compared to sharper cheddar cheeses, even sharp smoked cheddars. The smoke scent dominates the cheese food's aroma.
In the mouth, Williams Smoked Cheddar is waxy and mildly cheddar flavor. The smoke flavoring dominates the flavor, just as it does the scent, but beyond the smoke, the palate is dominated by the cheese food's waxy texture. That the cheese flavor does not actually blend with the smoke flavor and allow it to breathe is a bit disappointing and leads to a somewhat underwhelming taste experience.
The Williams Smoked Cheddar is so mild that it does not leave an aftertaste in one's mouth after it is consumed.
Williams Cheeses are not intended to be all that one lives on. For those who try to survive on this, the Smoked Cheddar cheese food is not a terribly healthy choice. A serving size is considered a one inch block (1 oz.). In that, there are 100 calories, 70 of which are from fat. This cheese has 30% of one's daily recommended saturated fat intake and 13% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 15% of the RDA of calcium and has six grams of protein.
Obviously, Smoked Cheddar cheese is a dairy product, so those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of cheese (swiss, cheddar and colby, which might explain its very mild flavor), water and skim milk. That makes it mostly natural, despite including preservatives.
As a cheese, Williams Smoked Cheddar cheese should be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several months. I am utterly unable to write about shelf-life as our eight-ounce block was gone within a week of being opened! So long as it is kept in an airtight, cold environment, it ought to remain fresh and supple. Our Smoked Cheddar block had an expiration date of September 15, 2017, which is pretty good for a cheese purchased at Christmastime, 2016.
Williams Smoked 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.
Sadly, Williams Smoked Cheddar is an unremarkable cheese that might be a fair garnish for a cracker, but it stands up poorly on its own or when used in recipes/on decent food!
For other cheese reviews, please check out my takes on:
Sartori Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago
Cappiello Zesty Marinated Mozzarella Cheese
Yancy's Fancy XXX Sharp Cheddar Cheese
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my Cheese Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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