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Why is cheddar cheese orange?

Cheddar cheese can be orange due to the addition of a natural colouring agent called annatto.

Annatto is derived from the seeds of the achiote tree, which is native to tropical regions in Central and South America. It is commonly used in food colouring to impart a yellow or orange hue.

The tradition of colouring cheddar cheese with annatto dates back centuries and originated in England. Historically, the colour of cheddar cheese varied depending on factors such as the season, the cow's diet, and the quality of the milk. To create a more consistent and appealing colour, cheesemakers began adding annatto to the cheese during the cheesemaking process.

While traditional cheddar cheese is naturally white or pale yellow, the addition of annatto gives it a vibrant orange colour. However, not all cheddar cheese is orange. White cheddar cheese, which does not contain annatto, is also widely available.

In addition to its role as a colouring agent, some cheesemakers believe that annatto may also enhance the flavour and texture of cheddar cheese. Regardless of its colour, cheddar cheese retains its characteristic sharp, tangy taste and smooth, firm texture, making it a popular choice for a variety of culinary applications.

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