Wednesday, 7 April 2010


I love cheese – and so does my brother, GB. I recall that for one birthday – was it his 21st? – I gave him a selection of cheeses and a bottle of wine. But do you know why British Cheese is so impoverished compared to our continental cousins?

The answer, according to Tadg Farrington in “The Average Life of the Average Person” there were two major causes. Firstly, in 1865/6 the murrain or rinderpest hit our cattle and caused thousands of them to be slaughtered. The result was an acute cheese shortage that was quickly filled by the American factory-produced Cheddar. That paved the way for mass production of cheese in Britain, and, as a consequence, a high degree of standardisation.

Nevertheless, in 1939 there were still 1500 farmhouse cheesemakers. During the Second World War the government safeguarded the supply of milk by rationing that which could be used for cheese-making and also rationing the standard industrial cheddar that became the only cheese available. That killed off the majority of small cheese-making concerns and farmhouse cheeses though the number has grown by about sixty since the War and stands at around 700. That is according to most sources but figures range from 400 to 1200.

As a result not only do we eat less cheese than our Continental counterparts but we have far fewer national cheeses from which to chose.

An Italian-themed street market in Exeter – the sort of place to find interesting cheeses.

The website of the British Cheese Board has some quite interesting recipes.

Some of the main British cheese types are:-
* Appledore
* Blue Vinney
* British Brie
* British Camembert
* Buxton Blue
* Caerphilly
* Cheddar
* Cheshire
* Cornish Yarg
* Derby
* Double Gloucester
* Dovedale
* Dunlop
*Gruth Dhu
* Gruyere
* Lancashire
* Parmesan
* Red Leicester
* Sage Derby
* Shropshire Blue
* Stilton
* Wensleydale

The delicatessen in Dunkeld where GB introduced me to Gruth Dhu.

Sadly one of my favourites – Lymeswold – is no longer produced. One I haven’t come across is the surprisingly named Stinking Bishop. No doubt GB can add a few more of his favourites from the Wikipedia list.

One website that will particulalry suit GB is  which lists cheese events in both Britain and New Zealand.

The sad thing is that I am restricted in the amount of cheese I can eat because some cheeses are migraine triggers. Not that that is going to stop me nibbling the occasional cheese and chutney sandwich....


  1. My favourite English cheese is Stilton. There isn't a blue cheese in the world that can touch it for flavour or creaminess -- not even Roquefort! Sorry, France, but this time, you lose!
    Canadian Chickadee

  2. Great post Bruv.

    A friend who half-lives in France and I went to the Caves at Roquefort some years ago and I realised then that there are very different Roqueforts. However I agree with Canadian Chickadee: Roquefort doesn't come close to Stilton. Having said that there are quite a few other blue cheeses produced here in New Zealand and in the UK which are very palatable (and less salty than Roquefort).

    I would list among my favourites
    Caboc (a Scottish cheese with an oatmeal coating).
    Gruth Dubh (Dark or Black crowdie - a very dry cheese)
    Applewood (a smoked Cheddar)
    Lancashire (a really good Lancashire is delicious: don't believe the officianados who tell you otherwise!)
    Cheshire (I have to keep a balance having lived in both Lancashire and Cheshire)
    And, despite what people may say, a really good very mature Cheddar cheese is hard to beat for general use (just avoid the plastic tasteless rubbish).

    Actually there are few proper cheeses I don't enjoy.

  3. GB, after reading your post I feel I must go cheese shopping! What a great list. Can't wait to try some of these - caboc and yarg both sound great. I couldn't agree more with the mature/sharp cheddar. Great alone or in sandwiches.
    Canadian Chickadee

  4. I only know a few of those by name and even fewer by taste. I know Cheddar though - I've even been there! ;)


Hello - thanks for dropping by to leave a comment. Your comments are much appreciated even if I don't always reply. They will appear as soon as they have been moderated.

Blog Archive