We just got back from a trip to Henning’s Cheese in Kiel. Kerry Henning was a very gracious host and wonderful to talk to. After hearing about the 14-year history of his peppercorn cheddar, we had to buy some! Kerry seems to get most of his new ideas by seeing another cheese and then wondering “Can I do that with cheddar?” While this seems like a simple task, he actually embarks on a complicated development process until he makes a product that he is proud to put his label on. I can’t imagine the number of vats of cheese that went into this project, but the result is a dry and peppery cheddar.
Apparently, Kerry found the final key to the cheese by learning about some other aging methods to achieve the dry texture of this cheese. It is almost like an Italian aged cheese a little towards the crumbly side but still very slice-able. The peppercorns almost merge into the taste of the aged cheddar, so it is less like getting little fireworks of pepper and more like one consistent flavor not too peppery, but with a nice edge.