So this Christmas I discovered that black can be the new white even when it comes to cheese.
This was after I was given a super delicious 'foodie' gift which contained a selection of cheeses, crackers and chutneys. And there it was, Charcoal Cheddar.
Initially I was not overwhelmed as it looked the same as a few of the others, a typical wax cheddar round. However, when I cut through the wax (I was curious about its strange name) I discovered the cheese was black too. Why? Because it actually contains edible charcoal.
I know…it sounds so wrong, but just taste it. It’s a creamy delight and it might even be good for you too as some people claim the charcoal absorbs chemicals and so detoxifies the body. What’s more, according to Wikipedia luminaries such as Hippocrates and Pliny used it to treat afflictions like vertigo.
This unique cheese is made with charcoal from the Featherstone mines in Yorkshire. The charcoal is mixed with a wonderfully creamy mature wax coated cheddar with chilli added to one variety too. Many cheeses have been coated in ash to enhance flavour and add a smoky undertone, but this is the first time that charcoal has been fully incorporated into a cheese.
This is the first and only black cheese made by Michael Lee in Yorkshire. Michael is an expert cheesemonger, trusted across the world for the quality of his produce. For me, this is one of his most remarkable creations and one that’s sure to create a stir at your dinner parties.
As you may be aware, Yorkshire folk even eat cheese with Christmas cake (which actually is a brilliant combo, even with Christmas cake leftovers). So if they make and love it, the chances are that you will too.
Our local farm shop stocks the original charcoal cheddar, a smoky charcoal cheddar and the flaming or chilli version if you like your charcoal heated.
If you’re still unsure about eating actual charcoal, don’t worry. It is already used in many other edibles, including bread, cakes and ice cream.
Not only would I recommend giving it a go for its delicious taste, but also to see how it transforms an everyday cheeseboard into something everyone will want to talk about.