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British Cheese Week

 

Monday 26th May – Sunday 1st June 2014

 

 

Jump to:-    General  History   |   Britain's Favourite Cheese  |  Other Popular British Cheeses

Farmers Markets  |  Online SuppliersBritish Cheese Week Recipes

 

Click here for information about British Food Fortnight

Many people pass over British cheese for French or Italian cheese, but with over 700 cheeses being made in Britain today, and with a very long history in cheese-making, they shouldn't. So hats off to British Cheese Week. Not only is the UK still producing traditional and new British cheeses but our cheese-makers have gone a few steps further and today there is more mozzarella produced in the UK than in Italy. We also produce our own Parmesan, Brie, Camembert and Gruyère.

© Joe Gough - Fotolia.com

 

Grated Cheddar and Red Leicester

© Lucky Dragon - Fotolia.com

 

English Mozzarella

© Joe Gough - Fotolia.com

 

Stilton

GENERAL  BRITISH CHEESE HISTORY

Whilst cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years, it was during Roman times that the processing techniques were refined. During the 11th Century, much of the cheese- making in Britain was carried out by monks, whose monasteries were thriving following the Norman invasion.

Their experimentation gave us, at the least the foundations of many of the cheeses made today. An excellent example of this is Wensleydale which can be traced back to the twelfth century when it was made by the Cistercian monks at Jervaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.

From the 16th century onwards, cheeses were being known by the name of the region in which they were made and by the early 19th century the British Cheese industry was booming with cheese was being made in farmhouses across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. However, two factors were to have profound affects on British Cheese-making.

The Industrial revolution with its vast railway networks made the transport of fresh milk over great distances possible, making it more profitable for dairymen to sell milk rather than make cheese, resulting in local cheese-making taking a nose-dive

World War II brought rationing to Britain with the weekly allowance per person being only 50g/2oz! And as if that wasn't bad enough, The Ministry of Food stipulated that only one type of cheese could be manufactured - the National Cheese - the final nail in the coffin and by the end of the war only a few varieties were being made.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that British cheese-making had something of a revival with the happy re-discovery of old recipes and the development of new cheeses and techniques bringing us to the present day thriving industry.

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Britain now produces many types of cheese including some made from goat, ewe and even buffalo milks.

BRITAIN'S FAVOURITE CHEESE

Cheddar has always been and still is Britain's favourite cheese. It gets its name from the Cheddar Caves in Somerset, UK where it was first stored in the 15th Century. Here are a few interesting facts about Cheddar:-

• There are 6 main varieties of Cheddar - mild, medium, mature, extra-mature, vintage and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. The main difference between them is the time they are aged – usually from 2 months for mild to 24 months for vintage

• Cheddar is the UK’s favourite cheese, accounting for 55% of the market

• It takes 10 litres of milk to make one kilogram of Cheddar

• A matchbox sized piece of Cheddar contains about 30% of the recommended daily calcium intake for adults

• West Country Farmhouse Cheddar has a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and can only be produced in the West Country - Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall

• King Henry II declared Cheddar cheese to be the best in Britain and records show that in 1170 the king purchased 10240lbs of Cheddar

• By the reign of Charles I, records show that the demand for cheese made at Cheddar was so high that it was “bespoke” and already sold before it was even made.

• In 1901 the village of Cheddar despatch 3500lbs of cheese to Captain Scott aboard the ship "Discovery", for his Antarctic Expedition

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OTHER BRITISH CHEESES

With so many British cheeses being produced today, it is impossible to talk about all of them here, however, there are a few which any cheese-fearing editor would dare not to mention individually during  British Cheese Week.

Caboc is one of Scotland's oldest cheeses and dates back to the 15th century. It's a rennet free cream cheese and the recipe is a closely guarded secret made by only a handful of people and sold under the seal of Highland Fine Cheeses Ltd.

Caerphilly cheese was first sold in and around the town of Caerphilly in Wales in about 1830.

Cheshire cheese is Britain's oldest cheese, dating back to the eleventh century. It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book,  and was a firm favourite in Elizabeth I's court.

Cornish Yarg is made from cow's milk and is based on a 13th century recipe. Alan and Jenny Gray, set to work to produce a cheese which reflected the Cornish Character and eventually produced this cheese which is a cross between cheddar and Caerphilly but with an unusual nettle-leaf coating.   The wonderful Cornish sounding name is simply their surname....spelt backwards!

Gloucester Cheese is believed to have been made for over a thousand years and is also known both as Berkeley cheese. It became popular at the beginning of the 18th century. There are actually 2 Gloucester's - Double and Single - the difference being that Single Gloucester is made mainly with skimmed milk mixed with full cream milk and Double Gloucester is made from full cream milk, making it a fuller, richer cheese.

Lancashire cheese is thought to have been made in the area since the 13th century. Certainly historical records show it was being transported to London by the 16th Century.

Lanark Blue has sometimes been described as the British equivalent to Roquefort. It is a relatively new Scottish cheese made from ewes milk and was first produced in 1985. 

Sage Derby was first produced in England in the 17th century and was traditionally  only produced for festive occasions such Christmas. as the name implies, it is made with the herb Sage which gives it a green marbling effect.

Stilton known as the  'King of English cheeses',  dates back to the 18th  Century. Click here to read about  its history, uses plus lots of recipes.

Wensleydale was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region who subsequently settled in Yorkshire. Originally the cheese was made from ewes' milk however, during the 1300s cows' milk began to be used instead slightly changing the character of the cheese to what we know today.

 

A few other popular British cheeses include:-

 

Beenleigh Blue - English

Berkswell - English

Derby - English

Devon Blue - English

Lanark White - Scottish

Llanboidy - Welsh

Stinking Bishop - English

Swaledale - English

Ticklemore - English

Y-Fenni - Welsh

Yorkshire Blue - English

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FARMERS MARKETS

Click on the counties to find a list of farmers markets in the area where you can buy locally made cheeses to celebrate British Cheese week, including address and opening times

For London click here

For N. Ireland & the Isle of Man click here

 

 

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ONLINE BRITISH CHEESE SUPPLIERS

Norbiton Fine Cheese Co Large selection of British and other European farmhouse cheeses
Teddington Cheese Huge selection of British and Continental cheese
The Cheese Shed Wide selection including goats' and ewes' cheese

BRITISH CHEESE WEEK RECIPES

Below are some  tasty recipes using the British Cheeses to help you celebrate British Cheese Week, but if none of those take your fancy, use the search form to find alternative  recipes using your favourite British cheese - there are well over 100 on the site plus a whole page dedicated to The King - Stilton.

Happy Cooking !

 

Caerphilly

Welsh Onion Bake     HT  ACC  Welsh  110mins

 

Cheddar

Red Onion and Cheddar Gallettes    Veg   HT  CD  MC  English  55mins

 

Cheshire

Pan Haggerty      Veg   HT   MC   English   50mins

 

Derby

Chicken with Derby Cheese     HT  MC  English  45mins

 

Double Gloucester

Baked Gloucester Cod     HT  MC  English  45mins

 

Dunlop

Dunlop and Spinach Strudel     Veg  HT  CD  MC  Scottish  55mins

 

Lanark Blue

Lanark Poached Pears    Veg  HT  HD  Scottish  70mins plus cooling

 

Lancashire

Beetroot Slice     Veg  HT  CD  MC  English  50mins

 

Red Leicester

Red Leicester Souffle     Veg  HT  MC  English   60mins

 

Stilton

Stilton, Fruit and Nut Crumble    HT  Veg  DP  English  55mins

 

Teifi

Smoked Cheese Dressing    CD  ACC  Welsh  15mins

 

Wensleydale

Apple and Wensleydale Pate     Veg   CD   HD   English    70mins plus chilling

 

Yarg

Warm Yarg Stuffed Rolls Veg HT ACC English 30mins

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