William James once wrote:
How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young – or slender.
Perhaps that is what Hook’s Cheese Company in Mineral Point, WI, had in mind when they stashed away some of their award-winning cheddar cheese for 15 years.
Owners Julie and Tony Hook recently released this grand old cheese, one of the oldest cheddars, to the public. They started with a 1,500 pound of cheese and aged it in airtight plastic containers at 38 degrees Fahrenheit. They also sell plenty of other cheese, some aged from months to 12 years.
How is the cheese?
Super Chef asked Tony Hook to describe it:
: Smooth, with a lot of calcium lactate crystals. The acidity in cheddar cheese last for about three to five years, after that the flavor smoothes out, and the cheese develops a strong cheddar flavor. This is orange cheddar. We have a ten-year white cheddar that will be ready next year.
He is also aging a 20-year cheddar.
Super Chef: Why are you excited about this aged cheddar?
Tory Miller: The cheese is awesome. We serve Hook’s 10 and 12-year old cheddars and blues. The 15-year old cheddar raises the bar. It gets everyone excited to see what is like. We taste all the cheeses to see how they change as they age.
Super Chef: How does it taste?
Tory Miller: Super creamy. It coats your mouth. Just a small bite stays with you. It is really awesome, I though it would be crumbly and dry, but it isn’t. Those crunchy things [calcium lactate] are mellowed. It is not as crunchy as the 12 year.
Super Chef: How do you serve it?
Tory Miller:We serve it on a cheese board. I have been known to keep ends and make Mac and Cheese. We have done cheese and beer soup. A little goes a long way, with the ends. But the problem with cooking the ages cheese is it gets bitter, the grassiness comes out and changes to bitter flavors.
Super Chef: How are customers reacting?
Tory Miller: It’s a bit shocking. They see the orange cheese, and they think its not as sophisticated as cave aged, white cheddar. We age some ourselves. We bought some two years ago, and now we have our 17-year-old cheddar. Tony released a little two years ago and I bought 60 pounds. This year everyone wants it.
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