Colston Bassett Dairy is the home of traditional Stilton and Shropshire Blue cheeses. Our dairy has been making outstanding cheese for over one hundred years and the farming co-operative which was first established in 1913, is still in operation today.
The Dairy developed from the vision of a local doctor, Dr William Windley – and we continue to make our cheese in the traditional way, using milk from local farms – all within 1.5 miles of the dairy in the Vale of Belvoir on the Nottinghamshire/ Leicestershire border. Both cheeses are created by a highly skilled and dedicated team of experienced staff – using the recipes that have been handed down through the generations. Renowned for its consistently excellent flavour, Colston Bassett is enjoyed by lovers of fine cheese all over the world.
Colston Bassett Dairy Consistently Tops the Charts..!
2018 started positively when, for the fourth time in five years, Colston Bassett Stilton was named as one of the top three Best British Cheese Brands in the Guild of Fine Food’s prestigious ‘Best Brands’ survey.
Colston Bassett Dairy triumphed once again, with multiple star success at the 2018 Great Taste Awards. Shropshire Blue achieved the most coveted rating of three Great Taste stars and Stilton took home one. 2018 is the sixth consecutive year that we’ve collected stars – proof that our hard work continues to pay off!
Adding to the success, Colston Bassett Stilton won Best PDO / PGI Cheese at the 2018 Royal Bath & West Show in Somerset. Our Whole Blue Stilton (animal rennet – which is made exclusively for Neal’s Yard Dairy) took home two golds, with a third gold being awarded to Shropshire Blue.
Earlier this year we were shortlisted in the Best Rural Manufacturing Business category of the Midlands Rural Business Awards. The UK’s premier awards programme for rural businesses acknowledges the vital contribution companies make to the development and success of the Rural sector. The nomination is testament to Colston Bassett’s established position as a leading local business.
These latest accolades follow on from a hugely successful 2017 – Colston Bassett Stilton was awarded a Silver medal at the 2017 International Cheese Awards, where Shropshire Blue also took Bronze. At the UK’s largest dedicated artisan cheese fair in Melton Mowbray, Colston Bassett brought home the Best Stilton Cheese Award and at the 2017 Newark & Nottinghamshire Christmas Primestock Show, Blue Stilton was crowned Best Cheese in Show.
Jason Hinds, Sales Director at Neal’s Yard Dairy, London; “With only four cheesemakers in the last one hundred years, Colston Bassett has maintained a tradition and quality of cheesemaking that is unparalleled in the Stilton world. It is the only Stilton that Neal’s Yard Dairy has carried for the last thirty three years, and is a favourite amongst our customers around the world, particularly in the USA and France.”
Over the years although the farms supplying the Dairy have reduced from 16 to 4, it is the same pastures – the reduction is due to consolidation and growth in size of farms. Over the years improvements have been made to the dairy to comply with today’s rigorous demands of hygienic food production. During this time though, the method of manufacture has been kept as close to the traditional ways as possible retaining such labour intensive processes as hand-ladling the curds.
Colston Bassett Dairy has a long history of supplying quality specialist cheese shops, delicatessens, and wholesalers both in the UK, America and across Europe.
Stilton was first recognised as a type of cheese at the beginning of the eighteenth century.It was given its name by the village of Stilton, just south of Peterborough on the GreatNorth Road, where it was first made and traded. Having originally being made in the town of Stilton, protection by a certification trademark (PDO – Protected Designation of Origin) – means that today the world famous cheese can only be made in the three adjacent counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
The perfect Stilton from Colston Bassett should be a rich cream colour with blue veining spread throughout.The texture of the cheese is smooth and creamy with a mellow flavour and no sharp acidic taste from the blue.The cheese is best eaten at around 12 weeks but this varies from cheese to cheese as each one is an individual. Melt in the mouth perfection is what Colston Bassett delivers. Always popular at Christmas; Stilton is a versatile cheese – essential on a festive cheeseboard but also a tasty additional to a summer salad or enjoyed
with sweet dishes -a partner to chocolate and ginger. A cheese to experiment with – view recipe ideas at www.stiltoncheese.com.
We recommend keeping Stilton in the refrigerator wrapped in wax paper. However, to enjoy the cheese at its best – remove the cheese from the refrigerator a couple of hours before eating, loosen the wrapping and let the cheese warm to room temperature. This improves both texture and flavour. Stilton can be frozen if you find you have too much. It should slowly be thawed in the refrigerator overnight.
It takes around 16 gallons (imp.) or 72 litres of fresh milk to produce one 16lb (7.5kg) Stilton Cheese.
After arriving daily from local farms the milk is pasteurised to kill harmful bacteria, then cooled to 30°C before going to the cheese vats. Once in the vat, starter and blue mould culture (Penicillium roqueforti) are added, then rennet is added in order to set the milk. After setting, the curd is cut up using first vertically bladed knives, and then by horizontally bladed knives until the curd particles are about the size of a haricot bean. The curd then settles to the bottom of the vat over the next several hours, and the whey separates to the top. In the afternoon the whey is drained off, leaving an exposed mat of curd. This is then ladled by hand from the vats into curd trays at the side.
Here it remains until the following morning, when it is milled, salted, mixed thoroughly by hand, and placed into hoops (or cheese moulds). The process thus far has taken 24 hours.
The curd then drains in the hoop under its own weight for 5 days. The hoops are turned over daily to facilitate drainage.
After about 5 days, the curd has drained and is solid enough for the hoop to be removed. The rough surface is now smoothed using an ordinary kitchen knife to seal the surface. The cheeses now go to the New Cheese room where they stay for a further twenty days, turned daily, while the coat dries. Now the cheeses can be taken to the maturing stores.
In the maturing stores the cheeses are turned three times each week until sold. At the age of around four to six weeks, the cheeses are pierced using a piercing machine. This pushes stainless steel needles into the cheese all around its circumference. Once the air enters the holes, the Penicillium roquefortii which has thus far been dormant, can now start to grow, forming as it does the typical veins associated with Stilton cheese.
A second piercing takes place one week later.Three weeks or so after second piercing the cheeses are ready for grading prior to sale. A cheese iron is used to bore into the cheese and remove a plug which can be assessed for level of blue veining, and so the smell and flavour can be checked. This is done to every cheese because only when a cheese reaches the required standard can it be called Stilton cheese.
Shropshire Blue is recognisable due to its distinctive orange body, again with blue veins spread throughout. The natural rind is a deep orange brown shade. The cheese is slightly milder in flavour than Stilton and delicately sweet. Like Stilton, the cheese has a creamy taste and smooth texture with no bitterness or sharpness. The maturation time is slightly less – best eaten at 6-8 weeks.
To celebrate our centenary, we have made a film to show you how we make our cheese.
60 Second Reviews discuss the Colston Bassett ‘Shropshire Blue’ cheese .
7 minute documentary on Colston Bassett Diary.
A section of images from the Colston Bassett events and archive.
Colston Bassett Dairy Ltd
T: 01949 81322
(Press 1 for opening hours, 2 for sales and general enquiries)
F: 01949 81132
We do not offer a mail order/deliver service but NYD and Fine Cheese Bath do.