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