History of Cheddar

Next to Stilton, Cheddar is one of the UK’s favourite cheeses with a history dating Cheeses_stored_at_Wookey_Hole_Cavesback to the 12th century and King Henry II and Daniel Defoe among its high profile supporters; the former claiming it to be the best in Britain and the latter dedicating a whole chapter to this famous cheese in his book ‘A Tour of the Islands of Great Britain’.

Originating in Somerset and taking its name from the village of Cheddar and Cheddar Gorge where it was once matured within the natural caves, this cheese is as popular today as ever. However today Cheddar is no longer only made in Somerset but all over the world resulting in a cheese that varies considerably in texture, flavour and appearance.

In 1996 Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar was given Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning that it could only be made in the counties of Somerset, Queso-Cheddar-1 (2)Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It must also be made to traditional methods such as ‘cheddaring’ where the whey is drained and the curds are stacked together, this is repeated and when matured the cheese will have a dense, crumbly texture. It must be made using locally sourced milk from the makers own farm and should be matured for at least nine months. These strict rules ensure that traditional farmhouse Cheddar remains just that.

During, and for some time after World War II the production of most cheeses was banned by the government due to shortages and rationing. One cheese, nicknamed ‘Government Cheddar’ was permitted, a standardised, bland and tasteless cheese but made in vast quantities to preserve milk. The effect of this was not realised until rationing was lifted in 1954, 3,400 cheese producers had shut down and it was thought that the art of making cheeses had been lost. Luckily for us this was not the case and artisan cheesemakers started to spring Image009up around the country, creating cheddars that reflected the land, the season and the passion of their makers.

We stock a wide range of Cheddar cheeses including Barbers Farmhouse, Taw Valley and Quicke’s Traditional. Try some today and fall in love with cheddar again.

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Stilton and its Mysterious Origins

bellstilton1Alongside Cheddar, Stilton is one of the UK’s most famous cheeses. But unlike Cheddar its origins are steeped in mystery and until as late as 2009 it was universally accepted that it was never actually produced in the village of Stilton but took its name from being sold in the village. The cheese was sold from The Bell Inn which was a resting point for weary travellers on their way to and from London along the Great North Road. Its landlord, Cooper Thornhill, became an entrepreneur selling the cheese not just to travellers but into London itself and as demand for the cheese grew Thornhill began seeking new sources from neighbouring Leicestershire. It is believed that this is where the myth of Stilton originating from this area began. However extensive research uncovered convincing evidence of a cheese made in Stilton in the early eighteenth century.

Today Stilton has been given Protected Designation of Origin status which means that it can only be produced in the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire by only six individual dairies: Colston Bassett, Cropwell Bishop, Hartington Creamery, Long Clawson, Tuxford & Tebbutt Creamery and Websters. In order to call their cheese Blue Stilton they must meet certain criteria; it must be made using local, pasteurised milk, must form its own crust and must have blue veining radiating from the centre of the cheese.stilton3

We are lucky enough to stock Stilton from both the Long Clawson Dairy and Tuxford & Tebbutt Creamery. Made to a traditional recipe dating back to 1780 the Tuxford & Tebbutt brand is a guarantee of award-winning Blue Stilton with delicious rich and creamy flavours and a piquant finish. Long Clawson Dairy was established in 1911 to ensure that the cheese and the methods used to make it would survive for generations to come. It is a bold, expressive cheese with rich and tangy flavours.

This rich and unique history results in a fantastic cheese. It is no wonder that it has stood the test of time and is still considered the ‘King of English Cheeses’.

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