When you’re faced with cheese-aisle options like “Seriously Sharp” and “Extra Sharp,” how are you supposed to know which is the sharpest?
Cabot Cheese has a stronghold in the Northeast, where its 1,100 farms are located, so anyone who lives in that part of the country is familiar with the name. The brand makes at least 10 different types of cheddar cheese, not even including their flavored cheddars. With options like New York Extra Sharp, Vermont Sharp, and Seriously Sharp ― some in both orange and white versions ― it can be difficult to discern which level of sharpness you’re getting.
We talked to the Nate Formalarie, communications manager at Cabot Creamery Co-operative, and he broke down just how sharp each of the brand’s cheeses are.
To verify his comments, we also conducted our own taste test to see how sharp the Seriously Sharp actually is, and if it’s that much sharper than the plain sharp.
In order of least sharp to sharpest, here’s how Cabot ranks their cheeses:
Aside from Mild (obviously), Medium is the least sharp of the Cabot cheddar cheeses. It’s aged around 3 months and is definitely more creamy than it is sharp.
Our tasting notes: “Cheddar, are you there?” “All creamy.” “Good, but missing the bite.”
Sharp is aged on average nine months. It is the most mild of the sharp cheddars that Cabot offers.
Our tasting notes: “Very creamy.” “Almost no sharpness.” “This is an everyman’s cheese.”
The New York Extra Sharp cheese is aged for 12 months. As the name implies, it’s made with milk from New York dairies. Cabot works with 1,100 farms, and 600 of them are in New York. According to Formalarie, the common cheese consumer probably won’t taste a big difference between New York extra sharp and Vermont extra sharp, but some of our tasters did.
Our tasting notes: “Balanced.” “Good creamy-to-sharpness mix.”
The Vermont Extra Sharp cheddar is aged for 12 months, just like the New York Extra Sharp. It’s made from the milk of 500 New England dairy farms that work with Cabot.
Tasting notes: “YES.” “This tastes sharper than New York.”
Seriously Sharp used to be called Hunter’s Sharp, but when Cabot expanded to the Southeast it was renamed. It is aged a minimum of 14 months, and is the sharpest of this line of their cheddars.
Formalarie told us that the Hunter’s Sharp wasn’t originally sold on their line of cheddars.
“Cabot used to put the Hunter’s Sharp on the side of the road, and Hunters used to get it on their way into the woods,” shared Fromalarie. The reason it wasn’t originally sold was because it didn’t fit the profile of an extra sharp and it was not quite a Vermont sharp. Actually, Fromalarie told us that “from bar to bar you can get a different experience out of the Seriously Sharp. Sometimes it’s aged 18 months and crumbly, and other times it’s not as sharp.”
Our tasting notes: “Yes, this is the sharpest.” “Perfect.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.