Joe Schneider has been making raw milk blue cheese at Stichelton Dairy since 2006. He and our founding director Randolph Hodgson had set out to make raw milk Stilton, but after the Stilton Cheesemakers Association refused their request to allow raw milk Stilton to be produced, Stichelton was born.The cheeses are produced at Collingthwaite Farm on the Welbeck Estate. Welbeck are partners in the venture; while Joe doesn’t directly control the milking, a partner in the business does, allowing for far greater control over the quality of the milk.
While raw milk is certainly a factor in the flavour of Stichelton, the way the cheese is made allows for the flavours of the milk to be expressed. Joe uses very little starter and a very long make, 24 hours, allowing the natural flora in the milk to bring out the flavours. The curds are hand ladled rather than using factory methods, allowing for a more delicate texture. Similar care is taken with maturing. The cheeses are given time to begin rind formation, allowed the time to dry and given the time to mature before piercing. Perhaps most importantly, each cheese is tested for ripeness before it leaves the maturing room.There can be a great deal of variation in how the cheese tastes from batch to batch and seasonal variation is a factor too.
While this is a blue cheese, the flavour of the paste is not dominated by blue. Instead, it displays a balance of the broken down milky white paste, the washed rind flavours provided by the rind and enough blue to add strength and complexity to the taste without dominating. When everything is in balance, the results are extraordinary. The layers of flavour are long-lasting and expand and develop as you eat.
It can sometimes be hard to know how much cheese to buy. If you are at all unsure please give us a call for some advice. As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend roughly between 100 and 150 grams per person for after dinner, and a bit more if cheese is the focus of the meal.
If you are buying cheese to serve over a couple of days or as part of a buffet, it is advisable to buy a few larger pieces. This will both look better and keep better than many small bits.
To help visualise weights, a good tip is to consider that a regular supermarket pat of butter weighs between 200 and 250 grams.
Farmhouse cheese is handmade and thus varies with each day’s production and changes as it matures. As such it is necessary to apply a common sense approach to cheese care and respond to the cheese you have in front of you, as opposed to following rigid guidelines. Here are some pointers which will help you to ensure you eat your cheese at its best.
We sell our cheese wrapped in waxed cheese paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe. We are happy to provide some extra cheese paper, you can add some to your basket by visiting “accompaniments“. If you wrap your cheese in cling film or foil, it can cause the cheese to sweat which will negatively affect the flavour.
Cut pieces of cheese should be kept in the refrigerator to slow the growth of mould on their cut surfaces. However, it is important to be aware that refrigerated cheese is more likely to dry out, particularly if it is not wrapped. The best option is to keep the cheese wrapped in its waxed paper within a box in the fridge. The container will help to prevent the cheese from drying out and prevent the cheese from absorbing flavours.
It is very important not to serve your cheese when it’s too cold as cold cheese can taste bland and inert. As a general rule of thumb you should bring it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve it. You should keep your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature, to avoid any risk of it drying out. If it is especially warm you should reduce the amount of time the cheese is out of the fridge accordingly.