The “stink” over Stilton… the struggle that gave us Stichelton… the battle that gave birth to Bell’s Blue… naming rights are big business in this day and age as Chris Parson writes:
- Cambridgeshire village claims to be birthplace of famous cheese – but cannot use its name
- European law states Stilton can only be produced in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire
For years it has been a village synonymous with one of Britain’s most famous cheeses.
But while the Cambridgeshire village of Stilton may claim to be the home of the crumbly blue favourite, those who produce the cheese are bizarrely not allowed to use its famous name.
A current European Law ruling means Stilton cheese can only be produced by seven dairies in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
The current dispute over Stilton being able to use the cheese’s name in its own village stems in part from the historic blue’s history.
Historical evidence suggests a cream cheese was being made and sold in and around Stilton in the late 17th century.
A recipe for Stilton cheese was published in a newsletter by Richard Bradley in 1723, but no details were given on its size, shape, or how long it was matured.
In 1724 Daniel Defoe commented in his ‘Tour through the villages of England & Wales’ of Stilton being ‘famous for cheese’ and referred to the cheese as being the ‘English Parmesan’.
A later article by John Lawrence in 1726 suggested that the perfect Stilton should be… ‘about 7 inches in diameter, 8 inches in height and 18 lbs in weight.’
As Stilton became a trading post between London and Edinburgh, the cheese was said to be sold to passing traders.
As demand for the cheese grew, its production moved to Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
It was at this stage that the cheese’s trademark blue veins became a part of the product, as it also became semi-hard blue cheese.