Susanna Ives, author of Wicked Little Secrets, provides us with two different sets of instructions for making Stilton cheese, one from the Regency and another from the early Victorian period. This quintessentially English cheese now enjoys protected status by the European Commission based on its location of origin. But before the twentieth century, Stilton was made at many farms across much of England, certainly in the north. Once you have read these instructions for Stilton, would you make some yourself, or might you have one or more of your characters make it in an upcoming novel?
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From Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, by Rudolph Ackermann and Frederic Shoberl, 1816
Process of Making Stilton Cheese
The Stilton cheese, which maybe called the Parmesan of England, is not confined to Stilton and its vicinity, for many farmers in Huntingdonshire, and also in Rutland and Northamptonshire, make a similar sort, sell them for the same price, and give them the name of Stilton cheeses; and there is no doubt that the inhabitants of other counties might make as good cheese as that of Stilton, if they would adhere to the right plan, which is this:
Take the night’s cream and put it to the morning’s new milk, with the rennet; when the curd is separated, let it not be broken, as is done with other cheese, but take it out, disturbing it as little as possible, and suffer it to dry very gradually in a sieve; and as the whey separates, compress it gradually till it has acquired a firm consistence; then place it in a wooden hoop, and suffer it to dry very gradually on a board; taking care, at the same time, to turn it daily with close benders round it, and which must be lightened as the cheese acquires more solidity.
The celebrated cream-cheese of Lincolnshire is made by adding the cream of one meal’s milk, to milk which comes immediately from the cow; these are pressed gently two or three times, turned for a few days, and disposed for sale, to be eaten while new, with radishes, salad, &c.
From The Book of the Farm Vol I, by Henry Stephens, 1851
It is improbable that any farmer, not a dairy one, will try to make a Cheddar or a Cheshire cheese, but many dairy-maids may be tempted to make a Stilton cheese for family use. The following is a good recipe for making one. The cheese-vat is a tin-plate cylinder, 10 inches high, 25 round on the outside, without top or bottom, having the side pierced with holes, to let out the whey. The rennet is made in the usual way, only the stomach of the lamb is used; and in addition to the ordinary quantity of salt used in it, a lemon stuck full of cloves is put into the jar amongst it, the lemon adding to the efficacy of the rennet. About 9 gallons of new milk, and the cream from 2 or 3 gallons of milk, warmed before being put in the milk, are used for one cheese. If sufficient new milk cannot be obtained, the night’s milk and cream are used with the morning’s milk, as well as the extra cream. The rennet is put in warm when the milk is new; and when it has become curd, it is not broken, but a strainer of coarse linen is laid in a cheese basket, and the curd put into it, breaking it as little as possible; the cross corners of which are drawn together, and it remains in this way some hours, until sufficiently firm to slice. The curd is put in the vat in slices, a layer of curd and a sprinkling of salt alternately: this is continued until the vat is full; then a flat square piece of board is placed at the top of the vat, one having been previously laid at the bottom, placing one hand at the top, and the other underneath. The cheese is then to be turned over very quickly; its own weight is a sufficient pressure; keep turning it every two or three hours the first day and two or three times next day. It is to be kept in the vat three or four days, according to the firmness of the curd. When taken out, a thin piece of calico is dipped in boiling water and wrung out, and then pinned tightly round the cheese. This cloth remains on it until it is thoroughly dry. The cheese should be turned twice a-day; it does not require any more salt than that which was put in with the curd. It should be a twelvemonth old before it is used, when it may be expected to have a little blue mould, and be rich in taste and mild in flavour. Stilton cheese sells at ls. 4d. per lb., or £7, 9s. 4d. the cwt. in retail.
© 2012 Susanna Ives
Originally posted at Susanna Ives — Writer of Reckless Abandon
Posted at The Beau Monde by permission of the author.