White cheddar is a variety of cheddar cheese that has not been colored, so it is generally off-white to slightly buttery in color. The commonly known yellow cheddar cheese is yellow because of an added colorant that varies by cheese maker, but is often annatto. This type of cheddar is used in many cooking applications. It can be served sliced on a sandwich or cracker, shredded on a salad, or melted in soups and baked pasta dishes. Cheddar that is not colored can also be called Vermont cheddar, even if the cheese and its ingredients have never ventured anywhere near Vermont.
Like other true cheddar cheeses, this cheese is typically pliable but hard and slightly crumbly. Although it is called white cheddar, changes in the properties of the cow's milk used to make it can cause color variations that makes some uncolored cheeses slightly yellow. Uncolored cheddar cheese is made by many a variety of cheese companies and is readily available in the cheese section of most grocery stores.
This type of cheese usually comes in mild, medium, and sharp varieties. Some manufacturers make extra sharp cheddar as well. Sharp white cheddar cheese is aged for longer than the milder cheeses, and it tends to be harder and more crumbly than those with less sharpness.
White cheddar bears many similarities to yellow cheddar, including similarities taste, texture, and cooking behavior. It can be regularly substituted in recipes calling for yellow cheddar cheese. The flavor of white cheddar is generally nearly identical to yellow cheddar of the same type, and chosen over the more common yellow varieties mainly for appearance and presentation purposes. Cooking with white cheddar is essentially just like cooking other types of cheddar. When heated, white cheddar produces a stringy, gooey melt that will start to bubble, then cook to a crisp if cooking continues after the cheese melts.
Though it is a relatively rare allergy, some people eat white cheddar because they are allergic to the color agents used to give yellow cheddar its color. Annatto is naturally reddish-orange to yellow-orange in color. Other foods that may contain annatto are many, but include margarine, potato salad, and popcorn, in addition to many other types of cheese. Some manufacturers use other colorants in addition to annatto to fine tune the colors of their cheeses. Though annatto can be used as a spice, the amounts used in cheese making are not usually enough to noticeably influence the flavor of the cheese.