Great British cheeses

Written by james green
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Great British cheeses
Some of the world's best-known cheeses originated in Britain. (Maasdam Cheese and cheese with mould image by Galaiko Sergey from

Many people associate the world's best cheeses with France and Italy. Britain, however, is well-known for its many varieties of cheeses. In fact, the world's most famous cheese, Cheddar, originates in Britain. British cheeses are somewhat harder than their continental counterparts with flavours that range from mild and fruity to sharp and powerful.

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Cheddar cheese is probably the most common and well-known cheese in the world, and these days it is produced under the Cheddar name globally. Its popularity is likely due to the cheese's versatility, as it can be consumed with crackers and bread or made as a condiment with hamburgers. Cheddar is a hard cheese that doesn't crumble. The cheese's taste, however, changes with age. Younger Cheddar varieties are somewhat sweeter in taste, and older vintages become more and more sharp with an ever-growing presence of nutty flavours. In the United Kingdom, Cheddar cheese is classified according to its age. These classifications are mild, medium matured, mature, extra mature and vintage.


This cheese has an appearance of marble -- white with veins of blue, green or black. Stilton is known for its strong taste that is best suited to those who can handle powerful tastes. Milder versions do exist, however. Stilton is similar to other blue cheeses around the word, specifically Danish Blue and Gorgonzola. The texture, however, tends to be somewhat more crumbly than its continental counterparts. Variants of Stilton, including those infused with berries and fruit, do exist and are suitable for a savoury desert served with creme fraiche. Ordinary varieties of Stilton are traditionally served with a glass of port wine. The European Union stipulates that Stilton made in Derbyshire, Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire may call itself Stilton cheese.

Cheshire and Wensleydale

These cheeses are well-known to crumble easily. Cheshire tends to be a substitute for Cheddar, especially for those who prefer a more mild flavour. Wensleydale takes the appearance of feta cheese due to being bright white in colour. Sometimes, it can contain blue veins similar to that of Stilton. Unlike Stilton, it is considerably more mild. Both Cheshire and Wensleydale are somewhat difficult to tell apart when they are young. As they age, however, Wensleydale becomes sweeter while Cheshire becomes dryer in flavour. Both cheeses can be crumbled into salads, combined with British roasts, or complemented with fruits such as apricot or apple.

Red Leicester

This cheese, which is bright orange in colour, is commonly found in a plowman's lunch and sandwiches. Like cheddar, Red Leicester is a highly versatile cheese that can be combined with many different types of foods. Many people combine the cheese with Branston Pickle, a type of spicy yet fruity spread made of pickled fruits and vegetables. Also, like Cheddar, the cheese becomes stronger and nuttier as it ages. Red Leicester melts well and is combined with other cheeses to add more colour to a cheese board.

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