Sorry to burst your bubble, but no cheese, no matter the cow, is naturally orange. This added color has a long history that illuminates how important the look of a product is and how it affects our perception of it.
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Popular Science dug deep into the history of cheese and discovered some really interesting stuff. Important information for all cheese buffs, which make up a large percentage of the world.
Back when cheese was first invented, either in the 16th or 17th century, English farmers realized that the product had a much lighter color than butter. This is due to the fact that cheese is made from low fat milk, and butter is made up of fat. This loss of color made customers believe that cheese was a product of low quality. As a way of salvaging their product, farmers decided to add colorant to make it sell more and look more vibrant and appealing. Admit it, a chunk of cheddar cheese is not as a tasty if it’s not bright orange.
While this backstory is very interesting, another theory claims that coloring in cheese was first used to even out the look of the product throughout the year. As it turns out, cheese has different colors depending on the season because it’s affected by the diet of cows. In spring and summer, cow’s milk is more buttery because they’re feeding on fresher grass.
Nowadays, a tasteless product called annatto is what’s mostly used to color cheese. Cheddar cheese has a lot of it while lighter colored cheeses, such as Gouda and Edam, have only a little of it. Sadly, in their natural state, all cheeses are just different shades of white.