France is the number one exporter of cheese in the world and there are over 300 kinds of cheese made in France. Some say there are closer to 1,000 types of cheese so 300 really is considered a conservative number.
That’s a lot of cheese.
Despite all the cheese being produced and eaten in France, I was surprised to learn that cheddar cheese is not widely available in France. Some of the French people I spoke with even scoffed at the idea that cheddar is actually a REAL cheese. uh huh!!
While attending middle school in France, my son Andre, was asked several times by his school mates “what is cheddar cheese?”, “What does it taste like?” and “what is it used for?”.
This might sound silly to North Americans and the British but since it’s not widely available and rather expensive, it’s rare that French children get to try cheddar unless they have travelled somewhere it is available like England, Ireland, Canada or the US.
I guess they have so many other cheeses they eat regularly like Brie, Emmental and Camambert that they really don’t need to eat cheddar cheese. Who knows..
CHEDDAR CHEESE FACT: Cheddar is produced in several countries around the world. It has its origins in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. Countries that produce cheddar include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
What Do You Do If You Need Cheddar Cheese In France And Can’t Find Any?
Basically, you have a few choices.
- Easiest: Find a cheddar cheese replacement that is similar in taste and texture ( I Discussed in Video)
- Easy but may require experimenting: Find a completely different cheese for your recipe. Bleu Cheese, Emmental, Comté (pronounced C-O-N-T-A-Y) are all good safe choices. I like to put Roquefort cheese on hamburgers and in mac and cheese.
- Costly and cumbersome: Order cheddar online.
- Search For A British Store: I found one in Paris. They are few and far between in France.
- DIY Cooks: Make your own cheddar cheese: Ummm…Need I say more?
EASIEST SOLUTION: Find Cheddar Cheese Replacements
I decided to not pay over 28 Euros per kilo for cheddar and look for a few cheddar cheese replacements.
We ended up trying over a dozen cheeses and came up with three cheeses that most closely resemble cheddar cheese or at least would do in a pinch.
1-Edam:Is actually a Dutch cheese from North Holland named after the town of Edam. It is widely available through out France and very affordable.
2- Mimolette: dates back to the reign of Louis XIV, who prohibited the import of Dutch cheeses into France. The people who lived in the the northernmost region of France, which is now Belgium had strong cultural ties to Holland and loved Dutch cheeses. Rather than smuggle in the contraband cheese they started producing their own version of Edam cheese with a French twist. That is how Mimolette was born.
3- Cantal:is one of the oldest French Cheeses made in France, pre-dating Roquefort (11th century). Surprisingly many people online said this was the least like cheddar cheese but both my husband and I found this tasted the MOST like cheddar cheese.
In fact, it tasted like a good aged cheddar.
4- Emmental: Technically this is nothing like cheddar but this cheese is everywhere in France. It’s the same cheese you find in fondues and French onion soup. Give it a try and use it instead of cheddar.
If you like the basic cheddar cheese found in your local grocery store than Edam and Mimolette will be fine. If you like the taste of aged cheddar cheese, good enough to put on a cheese plate for a romantic diner or to make adult mac and cheese with truffle oil than go for an aged Cantal.
I put all three in my Mac and Cheese recipe and no one could tell the difference.
I mentioned that you can find cheddar cheese at British stores and speciality stores. Well, If you are in Paris go to “Epicerie Anglaise http://www.epicerie-anglaise.com/. It’s expensive though, about 29 Euros per Kilo at the time of this writing.
DIY COOKS: Make Your Own Cheddar Cheese:
God help all you brave souls who want to attempt to make your own cheese, below I will list out a few cheese making books and kits you can use to do this. GOOD luck.