Cheese Lovers, It's Time To Head To Cheddar, England. Here's Why

Calling all cheese enthusiasts and curd connoisseurs — Cheddar, England, beckons! This charming village isn't just another quaint stop in rural England, it's also the birthplace of everyone's favorite cheese variety. If you're searching for an unforgettable culinary experience, get ready to embark on a cheesy pilgrimage. 

That's right, Cheddar cheese — the slightly tangy, crumbly (sometimes bright orange) delight that graces sandwiches worldwide — originates from this spot, nestled in the picturesque Somerset countryside. There are references to making cheddar here as far back as the 12th century, and 21st-century visitors can witness traditional making methods passed down through generations. Throughout Somerset, there are numerous cheese shops and creameries. In the village, The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company offers guided tours to learn all about cheesemaking and better understand where cheese comes from.

You can witness all of the steps, from the curdling of milk to the aging in cool, damp caves. These natural underground chambers offer an ideal environment for the cheese to mature, creating cheddar's signature sharp bite and crumbly texture. The caves, which Cheddar is also famous for, are a geological phenomenon and provide a consistently humid climate that is perfect for aging cheese in. The cool temperature slows down bacteria growth, allowing the cheese to mature gently. Meanwhile, the high humidity prevents the cheese from drying out. While some cheesemakers still rely on natural caves, modern technology allows for controlled environments above ground. These artificial caves mimic the natural conditions, ensuring consistent quality for large-scale production.

A rich history and heritage

Once you understand how the cheese is made — cheese-tasting is a must. By visiting a local cheesemaker, you can take the opportunity to taste a variety of Cheddar cheeses, from mild and creamy to sharp and tangy to mature and robust (and maybe plan which to choose for your next batch of mac and cheese). But Cheddar isn't just about cheese, and the village offers a wealth of less cheesy activities. Nearby Cheddar Gorge is a natural limestone chasm and is a must-see sight. Carved out by glacial meltwater during the last Ice Age, the gorge is a testament to the beauty and grandeur of nature and its towering limestone cliffs create a dramatic backdrop. The gorge is also home to several caves, including the famous Gough's Cave, filled with stalagmites and stalactites, where you can explore the area's fascinating history, and yes, sample some cave-aged cheese. 

For cheese lovers, Cheddar is a small wedge of paradise waiting to be explored. The next time you savor a superior slice of cheddar, remember the role caves have played in its development. The cool, damp embrace of these underground chambers coaxes out the best in cheddar, transforming it from simple curds into a flavorful cheese masterpiece. With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, cheese-tasting experiences, local cuisine, and cave adventures, Cheddar offers an immersive and memorable travel experience, punctuated with some delicious mouthfuls of authentic Cheddar cheese.