The Aging Process

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What exactly are these cheeses doing just sitting there on the shelf? You may have been out to the Ag District a week, a month or two months ago and noticed that cheese hasn’t moved at all! Hard cheeses like our Little John Cheddar and Nottingham Gouda must age 6-8 months or more to develop the flavors and sharpness we all love. During this aging process, there are both chemical and biological changes occurring. The cultures inside each wheel of cheese that were added during the make process, continue to break down the lactose to lactic acid and the longer it is aged the more sharp and bold the flavor becomes. Additionally, a process known as proteolysis occurs within the curds that have been formed into each wheel. These curds contain complex long chain proteins that break down into smaller amino acid compounds during the aging process and it is these compounds that give aged cheese their unique fruity, nutty, or even smoky flavor. This process of proteolysis also can alter the texture of the cheese and lead to the creation of crunchy crystals in some aged cheeses. Needless to say, those cheeses are doing a lot more than just hanging out on the shelf, taking up space for 6 months in our temperature and humidity controlled aging cells! Just like with wine, the longer the aging, the sharper and richer the flavor of the cheese and it is most certainly worth the wait! Come on by the Ag District today and pick up some of our hard aged cheeses: Little John Cheddar (7 months aged) and Nottingham Gouda (10 months aged). You may just find the start of some crystallization in our Nottingham Gouda, and we can’t wait for it to continue to age and develop these crystals!