Friday, November 1, 2013

Where is Stilton Cheese Produced? - Anglophile Friday

Blue Stilton

So the short story is this: Stilton cheese, we would think, would be produced in Stilton (Cambridgeshire), right? Wrong. Not only is it not made there, it's not even legal to make it there - in Stilton.

According to the law, Stilton can only be made in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and only 5 dairies within those counties are licensed to make Stilton. (See map below.)

Did I say this was going to be short??

At the Blue Bell Inn (in Stilton), the landlord of the inn says, '"DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs]  are moving the goalposts. They have rejected the application just because The Original Cheese Company registered the application and not us.

"It's ridiculous that we can't make Stilton in Stilton. People come in and ask for it several times a week and I have to tell them we can't legally call it Stilton.

"We're going to press on with our fight."

Well I should hope so! Someday I want to go to Stilton and purchase Stilton produced in Stilton!

Read the entire, fascinating story...

British author [and theologian, philosopher, poet, and all-round crazy fun guy] G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote a couple of essays on cheese.

Check out this sonnet:   

Sonnet to a Stilton Cheese:

STILTON, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I—
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading "Household Words,"
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.
                                            - G.K. Chesterton

Sound vaguely familiar to you literary people??
Maybe it's because you've read this:

London, 1802

MILTON! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
    England hath need of thee: she is a fen
    Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
    Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
    O raise us up, return to us again,
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power!
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
    Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
    Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
    So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
    The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
                             - William Wordsworth

See what I mean about Chesterton? Wouldn't you love to have known this man! Speaking of G.K. Chesterton, our PBS station is carrying the Father Brown mysteries this fall. They're fun, but as for a must-read Chesterton, try 'The Everlasting Man.'  (link to Amazon). AND, while at Amazon, I saw that it was only .99 for a Kindle copy. Could I resist that?? And then I found other Chesterton books FREE for my Kindle. Yes, I have hard copies of these books, but to have them with backlighting and adjustable line spacing! 

Stilton Counties in England
(outlined in red)
But where is Stilton itself?
See little red dot
If you were looking at a new map, you'd find that Stilton is in Cambridgeshire.
The map above is old. Don't complain. I couldn't find a better one.

MORE about cheese:

"...there are some cheeses, which have a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). West Country Farmhouse Cheddar can only be produced in the West Country (Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall) and Stilton can only be produced in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Strangely enough, Stilton has not been made in the village of the same name for more than 200 years. It was from the Bell Inn and other coaching inns in the village that Stilton was sold to outlets up and down the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh in the 18th Century.  From the mid-1740s most of the Stilton cheese was made other than in the village. For further information go to"

Excerpt from:

British Cheese Board

Also from the British Cheese Board site:

"What is the best way to store cheese?
British cheese is best enjoyed fresh, although cheese can be stored in a cool environment for anything from a couple of days to several months and depending on the type of cheese, will not affect the taste. 

In order to prevent loss of moisture, cheese should either be wrapped tightly in foil or stored in an airtight container. It is best to keep cheese in the bottom part of your fridge.

To bring out its full flavour, cheese should always be served at room temperature. You should try to remove cheese from the fridge at least two hours before serving and keep loosely wrapped.

Is it safe to freeze cheese?
You can freeze most hard cheese but on defrosting they become rather crumbly, although the texture will be altered they should still taste good. However, Stilton being an open textured cheese, does freeze and defrost perfectly. Keep in a freezer for up to three months wrapped in foil or cling film but allow it to defrost in the fridge overnight before serving."

Bell Inn, Stilton, UK

Sorry for this long, rambling post. It's what happens when I get started on a fascinating (to me) topic.


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Heide at ApronHistory said...

Very interesting. I love to hear the story behind everyday things. In your research, did you find out why Stilton Cheese has not been made in Stilton for 200 years?

MadSnapper said...

i would love to taste the Stilton cheese, i love cheese and did not know it could be frozen.. and the kindle being adjustable is why i love it.. that and free or cheap books...

Cranberry Morning said...

Heide, for a little more information on that, click on the link to in the text.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You're showing my favorite soap right's so gentle and sudsy! I love it! And Stilton was my Dad's favorite cheese. He loved a wedge with a glass of Mouton Cadet. I can't think of either without thinking of him. I'll look for these books too! Great post my friend!

Ruth Kelly said...

Someone took the liberty to change a Wadsworth poem. Regulations are not always fair. Stilton should be able to sell Stilton cheese.

TexWisGirl said...

they really protect their cheese-making domain!

imagine if colby cheese could only be made in colby, wi. :)

Vee said...

I knew nothing of Stilton cheese. Now I know enough to make me think I'm an expert! And I certainly think that Stilton should be able to make Stilton cheese. I don't understand the restrictions at all.

Noelle the dreamer said...

Ah Ah! Stilton can be freezed! You just taught me something Dear!
Our Worcestershire boy loves his Stilton (now why is it that smelly cheese - somewhat dire too on this side of the pond! - is so appealing to Britons?)
Appreciate the tip!
Happy Autumn!

podso said...

Well I found it interesting too. I remember our visit to a Wisconsin cheese factory, and then making cottage cheese from scratch with our kids.

Thanks for the chesterton tips/links!

Terri D said...

How very interesting!! I'm not real fond of those real strong cheeses, but find it just crazy that Stilton isn't made in Stilton. Thanks for the education!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

HI Judy I found this post both interesting and information. thanks. I did know that it was only those 3 counties that could make Stilton but I didn't know where the place Stilton was.

Donna Wilkes said...

I am drooling over the cheese photo - the older, the tastier to me. I hope Stilton at least gets its name back. Got to run - Father Brown is starting in a few minutes and it better not be The Flying Stars again - I have watched it three times already.

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

Interesting story! Kind of like sparkling wine and champagne.

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

I like cheese, especially the aged kind. This is such an interesting post

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed to say, I didn't know this.

Amy Burzese said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I would like some right now, please. One of my favs.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

It was indeed a fascinating post, all the more fascinating to me because I love Stilton cheese.

Yenta Mary said...

I love Stilton! Had no idea it wasn't actually Stilton's Stilton!

J_on_tour said...

I don't know why but I seem mainly to have Stilton in soup. I was desperate to share the story of West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, but then you covered that. On a side note of that, there is more Cheddar produced outside the UK than in Cheddar of which the Original cheese company might be the only place. On a side, side note, Wisconsin seems to be the great producer of Cheddar in the US.
I shouldn't mention it but I'm spellbound with that map … east & west Riding of Yorkshire guessing the conurbations of Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield, York, Doncaster ….
The village of Stilton is probably more famous for people by passing it at 70mph !!


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