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The Top 10 Traditional British Cheeses- from Stilton to Stinking Bishop!

Updated on January 5, 2015

A Nice Bit of Cheddar


British Cheeses?

When thinking about great cheeses, people are most likely to think about French cheeses. Well cheese has long been made in Britain thanks to the long history of farming community, especially of cows. In fact cheese is something that Britain does really well and there is a gigantic variety available. Cheese sells big in Britain and you will find it in all supermarkets and most corner shops as well as shops just specialising in just cheese. You can also expect to see cheese with biscuits, oatcakes or even fruitcake on most restaurant menus as an alternative to dessert. There are great many small English cheese producers making a wide variety of excellent cheeses. Here is an unmissable top 10!

Cheese Please Louise

Serving cheese with crackers is the norm, but fruitcake isn't too unusual
Serving cheese with crackers is the norm, but fruitcake isn't too unusual | Source

The Top 10 Traditional Cheeses

  1. Stilton - Stilton is a strong, salty cheese with delicate blue veins throughout. It can only legally be made in one of three English counties - Derbyshire, Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire. It is the typicaly blue cheese of Britain.
  2. Red Leicester - Similar to cheddar cheese, this orange coloured cheese is usually quite mild but very flavourful. Originally it was made in the same area as Stilton, and only made when all the Stilton needed had been made.
  3. Double Gloucester - This is a semi-hard deep golden cheese made in Gloucestershire since the 16th century. It is a creamy, savoury cheese not too dissimilar to cheddar.
  4. Wensleydale with Cranberry - Proper Wensleydale cheese is made at the Wensleydale creamery in the Yorkshire Dales, where you can watch the cheese being made and sample one of their many different varieties. Wensleydale & Cranberry is a sweet, fruity cheese with cranberries embedded in the cheese. Popular at Christmas.
  5. Caerphilly - Originally made in the South Wales town of the same name, it is a crumbly, salty cheese. Full of minerals, it was popular with Welsh miners as it replaced some of the minerals lost while labouring for hours underground.
  6. Stinking Bishop - This is a soft washed-rind cheese, made by just one producer in Gloucestershire using milk from the rare breed Gloucester Cattle. It is a very smelly cheese, the distinctive smell arising due to the process of washing the cheese in perry, which is a pear cider, every four weeks as the cheese matures.
  7. Five Counties - Five Counties is a combination of five cheeses, in strips of alternating colour: Cheddar, Cheshire, Derby, Double Gloucester and Red Leicester. It makes a stripy offering which looks and tastes excellent.
  8. Somerset Brie - A creamy cheese with a mild, fresh flavour. Similar to its more famous French cousin. It tends to be a bit firmer and less depth of flavour, but is an excellent cheeseboard favourite.
  9. English Cheddar - The classic English cheese which needs no introduction, it originated from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset in the 12th century and is the most popular cheese in Britain, possibly the world. It comes in various strength of flavours from mild to extra mature. There is a variety called farmhouse, which is more similar to the way it would have tasted long ago. This kind is very sharp and flavourful. Cheddar is popular in sandwiches, on toast, in recipes, with apple and just on its own. It is also popular smoked.
  10. Regional Cheese such as Lancashire and Cheshire- these are traditional method cheeses, made from pressed cheese curd and can be eaten relatively unmatured, or matured. The unmatured type is very crumbly and mild. The matured type is firmer with flavourful fresh and sharp flavours. There are many of these produced by smaller producers, often using traditional methods of separating the whey, cutting the curd and cloth wrapping the cheese to mature.

How They Make British Cheese

Tradition Isn't Everything

These are the cheeses that have become the staple of many British cheeseboards. However, tradition isn't everything and given the huge number of smaller and large producers doing all kinds of good stuff with their cheese, it is great to diversify. White Stilton with mango and ginger, or clementine and Amaretto have been available as have tiny goat's cheese rounds from Wales with a floral aftertaste or beautiful Irish Tipperary brie.

More than the world and variety of wine, cheese is huge in Britain, and whether you live in Britain or plan to come for a visit, place cheese tasting high on your to-do list!

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    • chirls profile image

      chirls 6 years ago from Indiana (for now)

      Yum! I used to live in England and I really miss the wonderful cheddar, Somerset brie and many of the other cheeses you mentioned. Great list!

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 6 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Up 1 and useful. I'm going out buy all kinds of cheese after reading this!! RJ

    • Glenn Raymond profile image

      Glenn Raymond 6 years ago from Bailey, Colorado

      This is a great topic, and you have delivered it very well. You have succeeded in adding to my hunger. You have made each one sound quite tasty. Thank you for writing this hub article. Keep up the great work.

    • profile image

      Maria Speight 6 years ago

      I love cheese and as an English-person stoutly proud of the culinary delights we have as a country (admittedly, sometimes well-hidden behind our fish and chips, stodge and - yes, even - McDonald's). This made me hungry, something a good food guide should always do!