Stilton is a blue cheese from England. It is named after the village of Stilton, however it is currently illegal to make Stilton cheeses in Stilton.
Stilton Cheese is semi-soft and crumbly. As the cheese ages, it becomes creamier. It has a rich flavor that becomes more mellow as it ages. The cheese contains blue veins of Penicillium roqueforti mold that radiate from the center. The cheese is cylindrical in shape.
Stilton is made from pasteurized cow milk. The cheese is an unpressed cheese. It is aged at least 9 weeks. There is a cheese called Stichelton from Nottinghamshire which is made the same way as Stilton, but uses non-pasteurized milk so it cannot be labeled as true Stilton.
In addition to the more familiar Blue Stilton, there is also White Stilton. White Stilton is made in the same way as Blue Stilton, but without the P. roqueforti cultures added. White Stilton cheese is often flavored. For example, there are blueberry, mango, and apricot varieties of White Stilton.
Stilton cheese rose in popularity due to the efforts of a man named Cooper Thornhill and a woman named Frances Pawlett. Thornhill sold the cheese that would be known as Stilton Cheese in the village of Stilton to travelers. Most of his cheese came was made by Pawlett from Wymondham in Leicestershire County. Other cheesemakers in Leicestershire followed Pawlett's methods of cheesemaking, and she is responsible for much of the standardization of Stilton Cheese.
In 1936, The Stilton Cheese Makers' Association was formed. The association exists to promote the cheese, as well as to ensure that cheeses labeled as Stilton are of high quality.
Stilton cheese received PDO status in 1996. The PDO requires, among other things, that cheeses labeled as Stilton be made from pastuerized cow milk, that the cheeses are never pressed, and that the cheeses are made in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, or Nottinghamshire counties. Only six dairies are licensed to make Stilton cheese. Because the village of Stilton is outside of the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, it is illegal to make Stilton cheese in the village of Stilton.
Historical records show that there was a cheese called Stilton made in village of Stilton since at least 1723. It is unknown if the cheese made in Stilton was a blue cheese, and was probably not the same as the Stilton cheese being made today.
There is more information about Stilton Cheese at stiltoncheese.com
Want to know more than all your friends about Stilton? Read The History of Stilton Cheese by Trevor Hickman.
Where to buy
Stilton can be found in many high-end grocery stores. You can also find it online at amazon.com