Leicestershire Blue Cheese

 Leicestershire Blue Cheese

 

Leicestershire Blue Cheese is a rare cheese and only made sporadically and by one maker Long Clawson Dairy.

Originally, this cheese was made almost by chance in the same farmhouses that were making the standard Leicestershire Cheese. The crusts of these cheeses would crack and allow environmental moulds to enter the body of the cheese. As the cheese stores were generally old barns or stables and might well have been storing Stilton – which was often made on the same farm - with plenty of leather harnesses and saddles about, there tended to be naturally occurring penicillium roqueforti blue moulds in the atmosphere; it was these that give the cheese its blue veins. This was a prized cheese and there is a reference in Val Cheke’s book(1) to Leicestershire Blue cheese being shipped to the London market in the 18th Century. Reference is also made in Henry Stevens chapter on Leicester cheese in “Cheddar Gorge: A Book of English Cheeses” – published in 1937 - in which in extolling the virtues of great English cheeses he states that “..  a definite place may be given to a ripe Cheshire and a Blue Leicester.” Again, by this time the name had been shortened to Blue Leicester or Leicester Blue rather than Leicestershire Blue Cheese.

In those days it was likely that only those cheeses that dried out or cracked would have developed the blue veining so prized and this would have been a rather “hit or miss” process. Today, there is a greater degree of certainty about the blueing as penicillium roqueforti blue mould is added to the milk in the vat and may then be sprayed onto the curds at the salting stage. Air is allowed to enter the body of the cheese by piercing it with stainless steel needles at around 6 weeks of age rather than relying on naturally occurring cracks in the coat of the cheese. In all other respects the making process for Leicestershire Blue Cheese is identical to that of Leicestershire cheese.