U.S. Dairy Products > Cheese > Cheese Categories

Cheddar & Colby

Varieties include:cheddar and colby

  • Cheddar
  • Smoked Cheddar
  • Colby  

Manufacturing Process

Cheddar is the name of the cheese, the name of the gorge in England where this cheese originated and the name of a step in the make procedure that differentiates this family of cheeses. Traditionally, the curds are pulled to the sides of the vat and the whey is drained. As the curds drain, they knit into a solid mass that is cut into slabs, turned, stacked and allowed to re-knit. This is called "cheddaring" the cheese. After a few turns, the slabs are milled and formed. These cheeses are then wrapped in cheese cloth and waxed. Today, only specialty cheddars are made in this fashion. Modern technology takes the guesswork out of cheddar making. The cheddars produced today in the U.S. are of consistently excellent quality with the ability to customize the flavor, texture and aging potential to meet the specific need.  

Colby, named after its town of origin in Wisconsin, is made similarly to cheddar, except that the curds are cut smaller and rinsed after the whey is drained. This rinsing hinders the knitting of the curds, leaving small irregular openings in the body of the cheese. This process is rumored to have been an accident, as are many of the new cheese making techniques through the ages.  


Colby and younger cheddars perform similarly under heat. Good melting when shredded or sliced as a topper for a dish going under the broiler. Excellent slicing and shredding properties.  

Medium and aged cheddars perform better for most hot applications. They melt more completely, with less separation. Beyond a certain age, they become more problematic to slice, as the body of the cheese becomes more crumbly.  

Key Applications

Colby and younger cheddars are ideal for shredding to top any hot or cold application from salads to Hispanic foods and much more. Their slicing properties make them perfect for sandwich applications, hot or cold.  

Aged cheddars, with their superior melting ability, are ideal for sauces, soups, and casseroles. They can be blended easily with other cheeses to build signature gourmet pizzas. They are shredded or crumbled into salads. Specialty cheddars are welcomed with any cheese course.  

Marketing Advantages

Highest customer acceptance of these cheeses. The U.S. is the world's largest producer in quality and volume. These cheeses are high in calcium, a much needed mineral in most diets.  

Key Benefits in Foodservice and Prepared Foods

Available in a range of flavor, texture and performance options depending on the age of the cheese. Their versatility and consumer acceptance allows them to be used in a wide array of prepared foods. Melts well and can be used in frozen/microwaveable applications. Available cubed, shredded and sliced for cost-efficiency through labor savings and reduced waste.