Why so orange?

Sun 9 Dec, 2007 at 6:17 pm 11 comments

Tim, Mac, Melissa and I were asking why North Americans dye cheddar cheese orange. I did talk to one person who thought that that was just how it naturally happened. The reality is that cheese is made from milk and milk comes out white.

I checked Wikipedia first (the ultimate source of all knowledge on the Internet):
“Like many cheeses, the colour of Cheddar cheese is sometimes modified by the use of food colourings. In parts of the United States and Canada, Annatto, extracted from the tropical achiote tree, is used to give Cheddar cheese a deep orange colour. The origins of this practice have been long since forgotten, but the three leading theories appear to be:
– to allow the cheese to have a consistent colour from batch to batch
– to assist the purchaser in identifying the type of cheese when it is unlabelled
– to identify the cheese’s region of origin

From a site called Food Reference I found out that: Cheddar, Cheshire and Leicester cheeses have been colored with annatto seed for over 200 years. Carrot juice and marigold petals have also been used to color cheeses. Coloring may have originally been added to cheese made with winter milk from cows eating hay to match the orange hue (from vitamin A) of cheeses made with milk from cows fed on green plants.

It would seem that cows used for producing milk have a orangish tinge to the milk so they dye the cheese to make it prettier. However, for whatever reason Brits don’t dye all their cheeses. Regardless, it should not cost more for white cheese (naturally white) than it does for orange cheese. But no matter – I love cheese anyways!


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Spice Up Your Life! The big drive over – but………..

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shannon  |  Sun 9 Dec, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    I love cheese too!! I guess I never thought about why cheddar is orange…hmm

  • 2. melissa  |  Sun 9 Dec, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    ahh! so the mystery is solved!
    any ideas as to why egg shells are white??

    glad to have travelled with you yesterday… 10 days until our husbands are back!

  • 3. Katie  |  Mon 10 Dec, 2007 at 4:50 am

    the cheese we get here is orange. I am now curious where it originates from. But we buy orange cheddar.

  • 4. melissa  |  Mon 10 Dec, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    answer to the egg question….
    The site explains, “The color difference is due to the specific breed of hen, according to the Egg Nutrition Center. Hens with white feathers and white earlobes will lay white eggs, whereas hens with red feathers and matching-colored earlobes give us brown eggs.” But were there any other differences, we wondered?

    according to to ask.com, its purely cosmetic and has nothing to do with taste, just the colour of the chicken’s ears…. who knew??

  • 5. jencairns  |  Mon 10 Dec, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Go figure about the eggs! I’ll have to check out the colour of our chickens’ ears.

  • 6. timothycairns  |  Mon 10 Dec, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    orange cheddar in the uk? When I first came here I was really freaked out by orange cheddar – I had never seen it – I was wondering why is this stuff this colour? that is how our conversation started – I am surprised (an appalled) that the UK would sell such stuff! better shop in Sainsbury’s not Tesco!

  • 7. Katie  |  Tue 11 Dec, 2007 at 5:30 am

    indeed. We do get it from Tesco but pretty sure Sainsbury’s has the same. ‘Tesco Scottish Mild Coloured Cheddar’ is what it is called. I do see that they have ‘Tesco Scottish Mild Cheddar’ as opposed to the ‘coloured’ cheddar though. We’ve found the orange stuff at Sommerfield too. Maybe we’ll have to do the swap and stary eating white cheddar. Although it is about 10p more expensive for the white. Weird.

  • 8. timothycairns  |  Tue 11 Dec, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    it sure is weird! interesting the orange stuff is hitting the UK!!!

  • 9. David  |  Wed 19 Dec, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    So this is where Tim Cairns hangs out these days! Do you miss Ulster’s rocky shores? Vancouver must be one of the few places in the world where it rains as much as in NI..

    Best wishes,

    Davey boy….

  • 10. David  |  Wed 19 Dec, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    PS I think they use carrot juice to dye red leicester.

  • 11. timothycairns  |  Fri 21 Dec, 2007 at 7:47 am

    I am not sure I “Hang out” on word press! or at least I hope I never will! sadly I have now left the rain of Vancouver and moved to Ontario


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