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Red Leicester. A Great Alternative To Cheddar

Updated on February 9, 2010

Red Leicester. A Great British Cheese



Red Leicester is a hard russet red cheese with a “nutty”, slightly sweet, mellow taste. It is matured for up to twelve months, giving the younger milder cheese a moister creamier taste and texture that the stronger, drier mature examples.



Red Leicester is a colourful alternative to cheddar and makes a festive addition to any cheese board. It is perfect either sliced or grated in sandwiches and salads, as a sauce, melted over hot jacket potatoes, toasted sandwiches and any number of hot snacks.



Red Leicester first came from the county of Leicester and was originally known as “Leicester Cheese”. It was produced as early as the 17th century and was made by the same method as Cheddar and Gloucester cheeses. Double Gloucester cheese was considered of higher quality because of its distinctive red hue, derived from the carotene content of the counties rich pastures and the addition of extra cream during the cheese making process. In competition the farmers of Leicestershire begun to colour their cheese with annatto, a vegetable dye derived from the fruit of the annatto tree from South America and the Caribbean, resulting in the distinctive red cheese we know today.



Red Leicester is made in much the same way as cheddar cheese using the traditional “cheddaring” process. During this process the curd is first heated, kneaded with salt and then cut into cubes and stacked to drain off the whey. Though unlike cheddar, the annatto dye is added to the milk before it is separated to produce the curd. The cheese is then pressed for twenty four hours, turned and pressed for a further twenty four hours, wrapped in cloth and matured for between eighteen weeks to a full year.


Red Leicester Cheese Straws

Cheese straws with Red Leicester are a simple, colourful and extremely tasty snack. They are an ideal party food and a good healthy alternative to the “junk-food” treats that children often demand.



4 oz flour

3 oz grated Red Leicester Cheese

Pepper and salt to taste

2 oz butter or margarine

1 egg yolk



Mix the flour, salt, pepper and cheese together. Rub in the butter, then add the egg yolk and work the mixture into a paste. Knead the mixture and roll it out flat to a ¼ inch thickness. Then cut into ¼ inch wide strips, arrange on a greased baking tray and place in a moderate oven for twenty minutes.



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    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 6 years ago from London

      It's pretty popular here - I don't know exactly, but I reckon Cheddar and Cheshire are more popular, and then Red Leicester after that? Of English cheeses, anyway.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Your Cheese Straws sound yummy, but I'm guessing Red Leicester isn't available on this side of the Pond. In NYC, perhaps, but I can't recall ever seeing it in the delis of the Midwest. But then it's next to impossible to get real Brie out here either. ;D

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 6 years ago from London

      It's lovely stuff.

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 6 years ago

      I vote this hub useful for cheese lovers like myself, I never heard of this cheese before. I will look for it in the deli. Again thanks for posting this great hub.