Colston Bassett Diary The home of award wining traditional Blue Stilton and Shropshire Blue cheese

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.

— Billy Kevan —

 

Welcome

Welcome to Colston Bassett Dairy…

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 Tops the Charts Again..! 

Colston Bassett Dairy has, once again, triumphed at the Great Taste Awards! Colston Bassett Shropshire Blue has received the Great Taste Golden Fork Award for Best Speciality Product from East Anglia and Midlands, and also reached the top tier of three stars! This is the third consecutive year that Shropshire Blue has received three gold stars – proof that our hard work continues to pay off! Further adding to the success, Colston Bassett’s Stilton was awarded two stars. Colston Bassett Stilton has just received a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards 2015, and earlier this year  was also awarded Best Stilton and Reserve Champion UK at the International Cheese Awards 2015.

These latest accolades follow on from a hugely successful 2014 – Colston Bassett Stilton was crowned Supreme Champion at both the International Cheese Awards and the Great Yorkshire 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.”

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Shropshire Blue is recognisable due to its distinctive orange body, again with blue veins spread throughout. 

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The Dairy

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Colston Bassett and District Dairy was built in 1913 following the idea of Dr William Windley. Whilst on his rounds, he encouraged local farmers to raise capital to build a dairy – he did not stop with farmers but persuaded other patients to subscribe for shares. £1,000.00 was raised from around forty people, half an acre of land was purchased from the squire – Mr Knowles and The Colston Bassett and District Dairy began. At the outset there were about sixteen farmer members supplying milk to the dairy and the first cheese was a hard-pressed Cheddar style cheese, due to war-time restrictions. Stilton was thought to be too much of a luxury to be produced during the war years. In 1920 the dairy started to make Stilton but stopped once again during WWII and went back to the Cheddar-style cheese. Gradually over time by the 1950s, Stilton was produced throughout the year. Today we produce our Stilton all the year round and also our award-winning Shropshire Blue.

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.

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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.

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Our Cheeses

HISTORY

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.

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SERVING

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.

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KEEPING

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.

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HOW WE MAKE BLUE STILTON

It takes around 16 gallons (imp.) or 72 litres of fresh milk to produce one 16lb (7.5kg) Stilton Cheese.

CURDS AND WHEY

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.

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MIXING, MOULDING AND TURNING

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.

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“RUBBING” THE CHEESE

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.

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MATURING, PIERCING AND GRADING

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.

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SHROPSHIRE BLUE

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.

Today we produce our Stilton all the year round and also our award-winning Shropshire Blue.

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Buying Our Cheeses

We welcome trade enquiries from wholesalers, retailers or those in the food business. Please contact us at the address
below or e-mail us with your name, contact details and an idea of your requirements and we will get back to you.
There are a number of options for individuals who wish to buy our cheese. Quality retailers and food establishments
throughout the UK and internationally will supply our cheese. Always ask to make sure that you are buying Colston
Bassett Blue Stilton.

If you wish to order our cheeses abroad, please visit the Neal’s Yard Dairy website.
Visitors are welcome at our shop (adjacent to our dairy) where we can supply all our cheeses to your requirements
and provide information and recipes. We will be delighted to see you, click here for a map and direction.

RETAIL SHOP OPENING HOURS:

Monday to Friday
9.00 – 12.30, 1.30 – 4.00

Saturday
9.00 – 12.00

Sundays & Bank Holidays
Closed

Our cheese is available from the following wholesalers:

Our cheese is also served at the local village pub in Colston Bassett – The Martin’s Arms.

Stilton was first recognised as a type of cheese at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

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Centenary Film


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.

Colston Bassett and District Dairy was built in 1913 following the idea of Dr William Windley.

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Contact Us

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We are always pleased to hear your comments on
our cheeses or our website, or to receive enquiries.
We’re happy to supply information on buying,
serving or storing our cheeses and look
forward to hearing from you.

Address:
Colston Bassett Dairy Ltd
Harby Lane
Colston Bassett
Nottingham
NG12 3FN

T: 01949 81322
(Press 1 for opening hours, 2 for sales and general enquiries)
F: 01949 81132
Estilton@colstonbassettdairy.com

We do not offer a mail order/deliver service but NYD and Fine Cheese Bath do.

We recommend keeping Stilton in the refrigerator wrapped in wax paper.
However, to enjoy the cheese at its best.

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Find Us

From The A46 Colston Bassett is clearly signed, from the direction of Leicester take a right turn or from the North take a left turn at the crossroads. Continue on the road through the village towards Harby. The Dairy, offices and shop are just through the village of Colston Bassett on the right hand side.

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