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Christmas 2019!

It’s that time of the year again, when things get pretty cheesy.

Have a look at our cheese board to see what’s available this Christmas. They’re all subject to availability, but you can reserve cheese in the shop, or by email. We’ll be open until (at least) 2pm on the 24th.

There are a few changes from last year. Mr Bourne has retired. One of the old-school, he liked orders for his Cheshire to be placed by sending him a postcard! Stanage Millstone and Bircher Blue aren’t being made at the moment. But we have some new cheeses in too; Sheffield Cheesemasters – who make our super-popular camembert-y Little Mester – have just released a blue: the cambozola-like Sheffield Blue.

We still run a cheese-by-post gift service, with our last posting day Wednesday 18th. The cheese is sent with ice-packs to ensure it stays cool. We have standard £20, £30 and £40 gift boxes – with Hartington Stilton, Sparkenhoe Vintage Red Leicester and Little Mester our suggestions for the £20 box – but you can of course choose any cheeses to go in there.

Happy holidays!

Photo: Two for Joy
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#60: 1845 Cheshire

This week’s cheese is a new-but-old Cheshire from H.S. Bourne. I’ll let John Bourne himself describe the cheese:

Our latest adventure into traditional cheese making is in trying to copy the process detailed in a book written in 1845.

We achieve this in the following way:

  1. We use grass fed milk as this was the practice at the time because Cheshire Cheese was made only in the summer months.
  2. We use the minimal quantity of starter culture to add security to the make process, whereas in 1845 reliance was placed on naturally occurring bacteria in the milk, in order to create the required acidity. As this period the rennet used to coagulate the milk was of animal origin which is what we use today.
  3. The development of the curd in the vat is a much slower process and a great deal of patience is required along with good care. We do have the advantage of a thermometer which in 1845 was not widely available. We are able to measure acidity development during cheese making through the use of modern titration, which was not available to cheese makers at the time.
  4. When we are satisfied that the process is completed we add salt to the curd which is then milled and filled into moulds.
  5. The cheese in spring was eaten young but later in the summer the cheese was matured up to 6 months.
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#53: Shropshire Blue

Until recently, Shropshire Blue had never been made in Shropshire. Who knew? Time for a history lesson.

In his 1995 book “The Great Cheeses of Great Britain and Ireland”, Robert Smith writes:

Shropshire Blue is a misnomer as the cheese was first produced in Scotland. Penicillium roqueforte produces the blue veins, and annatto gives a golden-orange colour. Ripened for 10–12 week, when it is said that the cheese has ‘a bit more bite than Stilton’. Makers include Colston Bassett, Cropwell Bishop, Long Clawson, Millway and Tuxford and Tebbutt.

This list of makers is also a list of the Midlands Stilton-producing powerhouses, and today includes Hartington, who make our Shropshire.

In 1982, Patrick Rance wrote a more detailed history of the early years of Shropshire Blue in “The Great British Cheese Book”, in his own distinctive style:

One of the blue cheeses made for some years at Castle Stuart Dairy, Inverness, was sponsored by Adamsons of Short Street, London, who sold it as Shropshire Blue. Andy Williamson, much respected in the Stilton world, went back to Scotland to make the new cheese, a lightly pressed blue with a deep red curd, which found a ready sale throughout the country in good cheese shops. Then orders were refused in spring 1980, with a promise of ‘more later’. For unexplained and unfathomable reasons the North of Scotland Milk Marketing Board had closed the dairy and the ‘more later’ came from Hankelow. Elliot Hulme and his Blue Cheshire cheesemaker Harry Hanlin showed their first public Shropshire Blue at the Nantwich Show in July 1980. They had been helped with advice from Charlie Chisholm, who managed the Castle Stuart Dairy when the cheese was made there.

All the milk for the cheese was unpsteurised, and came from Hankelow pastures. Mr Hulme had to quote EEC regulations against monopolistic restraint of trade to persuade the Milk Marketing Board to let him buy his extra milk for his enterprise from his co-operator.

Mr Hulme told me in September 1980 that first Shropshire Blues from Hankelow has proved a little firmer and deeper red than the cheeses made in Inverness. He has since ceased production, but in 1981 John Adamson and Company got Long Clawson Stilton Dairy interested in this cheese, coming back to the nineteenth-century conception of Stilton Cheshire.

Not much has changed with this tasty, orange coloured, blue cheese since then. Pasteurised milk is now used, as
is using animal rennet, so the cheese is not suitable for veggieburgers.

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#52: Dovevale Blue

We’ve spent 2018 exploring some exciting new cheesemakers: Leicestershire Handmade, Sheffield Cheesemasters and Olianas. This week, we return much closer to home, with Dovevale Blue from Hartington Cheese. It’s a soft, creamy cheese with a mild blue flavour. The cheese is brine dipped, instead of being dry-salted, and … hang on, haven’t we heard this all before?


Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) is a European initiative, offering protection to foodstuffs made in specific locations, by not allowing cheap knock-offs to be produced elsewhere. There’s a question as to what will happen when we leave the EU, with American manufacturers hoping to sell “Cornish” pasties (currently protected by P.D.O.) in the U.K. But that’s for another time.

There are eighteen cheeses with P.D.O. protection in the U.K., one of which is Dovedale. DoveDale. Made by the Staffordshire Cheese Co. Ah, so Hartington’s DoveVale must be one of those cheap knock-offs? In fact, Hartington Creamery was making Dovedale back in 2007, when the P.D.O. was registered. The creamery closed in 2009, and by the time cheesemaking resumed in Hartington in 2014, it was being made down the road. But there’s nothing to stop Hartington calling their new cheese Dovedale too; after all, there are seven makers of Blue Stilton, which is also a protected name.

So I wonder why Dovevale isn’t Dovedale? Answers on a postcard. Postmarked “Brussels”.

Stepping Stones in Dovedale

Stepping Stones in Dovevale