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Of the various types of Derby-style cheeses, Little Derby refers to the kind that is produced outside of Derbyshire, where the English cheeses are traditionally made. The mild cheese is comparable to cheddar cheese in both its consistency and taste. Many Little Derby cheeses are flavored with an aromatic herb, such as sage.
Little Derby cheese has a pleasant, mild flavor. Its coloring is darker than traditional Derby cheese. This is due to the fact that the annato seed used to provide the coloring in Derby cheese is usually not used in making Little Derby. Coloration for the cheese is provided, however, with a red wine soak, which renders the rind of the cheese a richer, orange hue.
A good Little Derby is left to age for at least six or seven months before use. This type of cheese is made with pasteurized cow's milk, resulting in a fat component of nearly half of the entire cheese. The rennet, or digestive enzyme, used to create Little Derby is usually a vegetarian component. This differs from typical cheese composition, which is made with the rennet found in the stomach of a cow.
Many different types of flavoring agents, from herbs to vegetables, may be used to instill flavor nuances in a round of Little Derby. Onions are a popular flavoring agent with this cheese, as is garlic. In addition to sage, chives, black pepper, and many other herbs may be used to modify the taste of Derby cheese. Dried chilli can provide the cheese with a zesty heat, while condiments like mustard can make the cheese tangy. Like many other cheeses, Derby can be smoked with wood if desired.
The finished, firm cheese is typically a round shape. It may be sold as such, or in sliced wedges. The finished product is usually very heavy, making its name a deceptive title. Due to the renown and similar flavor to cheddar cheese, cheddar is usually more popular than Little Derby, and heavily outsells the lesser-known cheese. Fans of Derby know it to be slightly milder than cheddar.
Using this type of Derby cheese is also similar to using cheddar. It can be sliced and used on sandwiches, or cubed and served with wine at a formal gathering. It can be melted and cooked into a sauce to pour on top of vegetables or to dip breads in, or even drizzled on pasta.