The British have a rich heritage of producing some of the most delectable varieties in the world. Among these, British Red Leicester and Wensleydale stand out as two iconic cheeses that have delighted palates for centuries. Let us understand how these two cheeses can elevate your cheese board to a whole new level of culinary delight.
British Red Leicester: A Vibrant Heritage
A Rich History
British Red Leicester is simply referred to as Red Leicester. It boasts a history that dates back over three centuries. Its origins can be traced to the Leicestershire region in England, where farmers wanted to make the most of their surplus milk by creating this unique cheese. Initially, it was dyed with annatto, a natural plant-based colouring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. It is this natural colouring that gives it the characteristic vibrant orange hue and sets it apart from other cheeses.
Red Leicester is a hard cheese with a smooth, firm texture and a natural rind. As it matures, its flavour becomes more complex and nutty, and with time, its mild taste develops a rich flavour. The addition of annatto not only imparts a visually appealing colour but also enhances the cheese's earthy and slightly tangy taste.
This cheese complements a range of accompaniments, making it an excellent choice for your cheese board. It best goes with crisp apples, juicy pears, or a selection of dried fruits for a delightful sweet and savoury combination. For a more savoury pairing, enjoy it with chutneys, pickles or crusty bread.
Dairies that Have Preserved the Authenticity of British Red Leister
Long Clawson Dairy
Located in the village of Long Clawson in Leicestershire, Long Clawson Dairy is one of the most well-known producers of British Red Leicester cheese. The dairy has a history that stretches back to 1911 when a group of local farmers came together to form a cooperative to produce Stilton cheese. Over the years, they expanded their repertoire to include Red Leicester cheese, which has become a signature product of the dairy. Long Clawson Dairy is committed to using traditional methods and locally sourced milk to craft its award-winning cheeses.
Cropwell Bishop Creamery
Cropwell Bishop Creamery in Nottinghamshire is another esteemed producer of British Red Leicester cheese. With a history dating back to 1970, the creamery has a strong reputation for crafting premium cheeses using traditional methods combined with modern technology.
Situated in Whitchurch, Shropshire, this is a family-owned dairy that has been operating since 1922. The dairy is committed to producing high-quality British cheeses, including their exquisite Red Leicester. Belton Cheese prides itself on using locally sourced milk from farms in the surrounding area to create its award-winning cheeses, ensuring a true taste of the British countryside.
Wensleydale: A Treasure from the Dales
A Rich History
Wensleydale cheese gets its name from the picturesque valley of Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales, England. This cheese dates back to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest recorded cheese varieties in the country. Over the centuries, Wensleydale has garnered a loyal following and is now renowned far beyond the borders of Yorkshire.
Wensleydale is a crumbly and open-textured cheese that can be easily distinguished from other types. It has a milky, slightly sweet taste with subtle hints of honey and a refreshing finish. Wensleydale is a versatile cheese that appeals to both those who like milder cheeses and those who enjoy more pronounced flavours.
The delightful flavour profile of Wensleydale lends itself well to both sweet and savoury pairings. On your cheese board, complement Wensleydale with honey, fresh berries, and grapes for a delightful burst of sweetness. For a savoury twist, serve it with crackers, sliced cucumber, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Dairies that Have Preserved the Authenticity of Wensleydale
Wensleydale Creamery is one of the most renowned producers of Wensleydale cheese. Based in the market town of Hawes in North Yorkshire, the creamery has a storied history dating back to 1150 when French Cistercian monks settled in the area and began crafting Wensleydale cheese. Over the centuries, the tradition of cheese-making has been passed down through generations, and today, the Wensleydale Creamery continues to produce this beloved cheese using traditional techniques combined with modern innovations.
The Ribblesdale Cheese Company
Located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, The Ribblesdale Cheese Company is another prominent producer of Wensleydale cheese. The company was founded in 1978 by Philip and Gillian Palmer, who were passionate about reviving the art of traditional cheese-making. Inspired by the region's rich heritage of cheese production, they decided to specialize in crafting exceptional Wensleydale cheese. Today, the Ribblesdale Cheese Company is celebrated for its artisanal approach and commitment to producing high-quality handcrafted cheeses.
Carron Lodge Ltd
Situated in the county of Lancashire, Carron Lodge Ltd is a family-run dairy that has been operating for over 40 years. Founded in 1978 by John and Sheila Helme, the dairy started by producing Lancashire cheese but soon expanded its repertoire to include Wensleydale cheese. Carron Lodge Ltd is known for its dedication to using locally sourced milk and traditional cheese-making techniques, ensuring that its Wensleydale cheese stays true to its authentic roots.
Beverage Pairings for British Red Leicester and Wensleydale Cheeses
To complete your cheese board, consider beverage pairings that will elevate the flavours of the cheeses. Offer a choice of wines, such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity Pinot Noir, both of which complement the delicate and bold aspects of the cheeses. For non-alcoholic options, consider serving sparkling water, apple cider, or a selection of fine teas.
British Red Leicester and Wensleydale are iconic cheeses that showcase the best of British cheese-making. With their distinct flavours and textures, they enhance the charm of any cheese board. Celebrate the rich heritage of these cheeses and savour their unique delights.