Introduction to Stilton cheese
Stilton Cheese is an English cheese. There are two kinds of Stilton: Blue Stilton (the most famous) and White Stilton. Blue Stilton is protected by a PDO in England, its fabrication has thus to follow several rules. The cheese gets the name of Stilton only if it is made in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. As a consequence, surprising though it may seem, it is illegal to produce Stilton in the village of Stilton which is located in Cambridgeshire.
It has often been known under the name of "King of the cheeses", Blue Stilton is one the rare cheeses to have obtained the European PDO. Seven dairies are allowed to produce Blue Stilton which are often controlled.
It is still one of the most subtle English cheeses, often consumed at Christmas between the turkey and the Plum Pudding.
Weight: 4-5 kg
Height: 25 cm
Diameter: 15 cm
History of Stilton cheese
In England, XVIIIth century, the writer of County Housewife explains that there is not anything but a strong liqueur to enhance the taste of Stilton. But on special occasions, a hole is dug in the cheese in which some Port Wine is poured. According to the tradition, Stilton is consumed between men in a smoking-room or a living-room.
Since Daniel Defoe wrote in A tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain in 1727 that he went to Stilton, a famous city for its cheese, the fabrication of Stilton has hardly changed. Yet, Stilton has never been produced in the city of Stilton. Stilton is 130 km away in the North of London, on the old Northern Big Road. Stilton was a stop for the stagecoaches between York and London. While the horses were changed, the travelers went to one of the taverns of the city. Cooper Thornhill, an entrepreneur from East Midlands, held the famous "Bell Inn". He was the first to offer to the travelers a mellow, creamy, blue-veined cheese which then took the name of the city. Actually, Thornhill bought his cheese from the wife of a farmer, Frances Pawlett, who lived near Melton Mowbray.
Fabrication of Stilton cheese
Every day, the cheesemaker pours the fresh pasteurized milk in a large vat in which he adds microbiological culture, the rennet and the penicillium roqueforti (blue mould). Once the milk curdles, the curd is drained and dries overnight. The day after, the curd is cut in pieces to dry more and salted. The cheesemaker places 11 kg of the curd in cylinder-shaped moulds and stirs the cheeses for five or six days so that the cheeses lost all the whey. This technique enables to get a dry and chalky texture which allows the development of blue veins. Five or six days later, the cheeses are removed from the moulds and wrapped. Then, they are stocked in a room where the temperature and the humidity are carefully controlled. During the aging, each cheese is regularly returned. Six weeks later, the rind of Stilton appears: it is time to pierce the cheeses with steel needles. The air can enter which allows the blue to develop. Nine weeks after, the cheeses which only weigh 8 kg can be sold.
Choosing the Stilton cheese
To be appreciated, Stilton has to age in humid cellars for at least four or five months, but the real flavour appears after one year. The texture has to be white and soft, with uniform blue veins. The taste has to be a bit sharp
Our Stilton is selected with Paxton&Whitfield in London.