Tony Hook of the Hook's Cheese Co. in Mineral Point, Wis., has some really sharp cheddar for sale: The 15-year-old cheese is being sold at $50 a pound — just don't put it on your cheeseburger.
"I don't think you'd want to put it in your mac and cheese," Hook tells NPR's Michele Norris. "Cook it too long, and lose some of your flavors."
Hook says the cheese is flavorful and doesn't have the bitterness that one might expect from old cheddar.
"You'd probably just want to eat it by itself or with a fine wine or a good, hearty stout beer," he says.
Hook says his company has been aging cheddars for more than 20 years; the 15-year-old cheddar has been compared to a single-malt scotch.
"At the time we started, we weren't actually setting out to age anything for 15 years, I guess," he says. "But as we aged some of it out, and it was developing such good flavor, we decided we'd set some of it aside aged for 12 years, and then for 15 years."
By comparison, shredded cheddar available at the grocery store is between 1 and 3 months old.
Still, the 15-year-old cheese is not the oldest Hook has; it's merely the oldest he has for sale.
"I still have a few pounds left of ... the 17-year-old," he says, "but that's for personal consumption and for the family. ... I don't even have a label for it."