Colston Bassett Dairy
Stilton was first recognised as a type of cheese (hard parmesan type cheese) at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was given its name by the village of Stilton, just south of Peterborough on the Great North Road, where it was first made and traded. Having originally being made in the town of Stilton, protection by a certification trademark and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) – means that today the world famous Blue Stilton cheese can only be made in the three adjacent counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
with sweet dishes -a partner to chocolate and ginger. A cheese to experiment with – view recipe ideas at www.stiltoncheese.com.
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 before going into 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. The cut curds then settle to the bottom of the vat 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.
“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 rooms where they stay for two to three weeks and are turned daily, while the coat dries. The cheeses can then be taken to the maturing stores.
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.
MATURING, PIERCING AND GRADING
In the maturing stores the cheeses are turned regularly until they are sold. As the cheese age they 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 Roqueforti, which has thus far been dormant, can now start to grow, forming the typical veins associated with Stilton cheese.
After maturing every cheese is grading prior to sale. A cheese iron is used to bore into the cheese and remove a core of cheese, which can be assessed for level of blue veining; smell and most importantly the 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.