Chow Town

Cottonwood River Cheddar is a gem from Kansas

Cottonwood River Cheddar gets its pale yellow color from a small amount of annatto added to the milk at the beginning of the cheesemaking process.
Cottonwood River Cheddar gets its pale yellow color from a small amount of annatto added to the milk at the beginning of the cheesemaking process.

October is American Cheese Month. The American Cheese Society says, “American Cheese Month is a celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers and chefs who bring them to your table.”

So I thought I would bring a different cheese to Chow Town readers every day in October. Stay tuned to see what delicious cheeses North America has to offer! There are sure to be some classic favorites and new must-haves that will suit everyone’s tastes.

Cottonwood River Cheddar

Producer: Jason Wiebe Dairy

Place: Durham, Kan.

Milk: Raw cow’s

Type: Hard

Wiebe Dairy is a third-generation Mennonite farm with a herd of 120 cows. This makes Cottonwood a true farmhouse cheese. They make raw milk cheddar and a host of other cheeses.

Cottonwood is a little drier than Thursday’s featured cheese, Prairie Breeze, but it does have some of the same qualities. The flavor is sharp but not tangy, and it has a nutty sweetness that stands out. The texture is still creamy but with more of a crystalline crunch. The color is a pale yellow from the small amount of annatto that is added to the milk at the beginning of the cheesemaking process. It is aged for about a year.

Whenever our customers try Cottonwood for the first time I almost always hear that it tastes like Parmesan. They are not wrong; it does have some of those same flavors. But if they would taste a piece of Parm side by side with Cottonwood, they would think cheddar all the way. Cottonwood is a gem on the Kansas cheese scene.

Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.

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