We asked our friends at Great British Chefs to put together a truly delicious list of the ten cheeses which prove Britain is now one of the best cheesemaking nations in the world. See how many you’ve tasted, and make a mental note of the ones you haven’t for when you’re next at the cheese counter.
1. Appleby’s Cheshire
One of just a few producers still making traditional handmade Cheshire cheese, family-run Appleby’s still bandages its wheels rather than waxing them. This results in a much more savoury, mineral-led flavour with the characteristic zesty citrus tang that’s made Cheshire such a popular cheese since the eleventh century.
A relatively new cheese made by a very old Stilton producer (Cropwell Bishop), Beauvale is the British answer to Gorgonzola. The incredibly creamy, soft texture (let it come to room temperature and it’s almost spreadable) and mild blue flavour made it an instant award-winner, proving that both new and old cheeses from the UK are well worth looking out for.
British-made goat and sheep’s milk cheeses were all but unheard of in the UK until the 1980s, but these days they’re the varieties that are paving the way for exciting new cheesemakers. Berkswell is a sheep’s milk variety that’s matured until firm with a sweet, caramel flavour and moreish nuttiness that lingers on the tongue.
4. Cornish Yarg
An iconic British cheese that’s wrapped in nettle leaves as it ages, adding further flavour and a striking appearance to the final wheel. This, combined with the creamy texture (which gets crumblier towards the centre) and slightly tangy taste has made it a multi-award-winner. It also comes wrapped in wild garlic leaves for a truly seasonal speciality.
5. Keen’s Cheddar
There are countless cheddars out there these days and the variety has firmly secured itself the title of Britain’s favourite cheese, but Keen’s is a world away from the mass-produced blocks in the supermarket. A proper handmade West Country Farmhouse Cheddar (PDO-protected), it is less sweet than modern varieties and has a much more pronounced farmyard flavour. It’s what cheddar is supposed to taste like.
6. Sparkenhoe Red Leicester
For years, red Leicester was seen as a lurid orange thing that tasted only slightly different to the mass-made cheddars on shop shelves, making many of us wonder how it stayed popular throughout the centuries. In 2005, however, proper authentic red Leicester was put back into production for the first time in decades – Sparkenhoe. The deep, fiery orange, sweet, long-lasting nuttiness and chewy texture puts other Leicester pretenders to shame.
For a cheese to be called Stilton it has to meet several guidelines. It must be made in certain counties to a particular recipe and hand-ladled into presses, among many other rules. Joe Schneider adhered to almost all of these except one; he used unpasteurised milk. This meant he had to come up with another name for his cheese – Stichelton – but people quickly discovered the creamy, tangy result was, dare we say it, better than traditional Stilton.
8. Stinking Bishop
Arguably the most famous of the UK’s more modern cheeses (thanks in part to Wallace and Gromit), Stinking Bishop certainly lets off a serious pong. This is because it’s washed in perry (pear cider), which helps develop the beautiful pink rind. The cheese within, however, is actually quite mild and herby, so if you haven’t dared taste it before, you’re missing out on one of the country’s true cheese success stories.
This bloomy, brilliant white cheese is made from goat’s milk, with a very clean, refreshing flavour that doesn’t have the classic overpowering ‘goatiness’ of some more aged goat’s cheese. The texture is quite firm, and the unusual shape is a result of being drained in a basket, allowing a natural rind to form and creating the ridges around the outside.
A Camembert-style cheese that really does prove we can make soft varieties just as good as our French counterparts. It has an incredible depth of flavour, with hints of mushroom, cabbage, milk and fresh fruit. The rind is wafer-thin, just strong enough to hold the oozing middle together, and the cheese itself has been named the best in Britain twice.
Article courtesy of Great British Chefs