Medium-blue flavour with a firm, creamy texture.
Shropshire Blue originated at the
Castle Stuart Dairy, Inverness in the 1970's where it was called
'Inverness-shire Blue' or 'Blue Stuart'. It was made by a Scottish
cheese-maker called Andy Williamson who was trained in the making
of Stilton in Nottinghamshire. He returned to Scotland to produce
the first Scottish Blue cheeses which included cheeses similar
not only to Stilton but also to Blue Cheshire and Wensleydale.
Inverness-shire Blue, or Blue Stuart, was marketed throughout
the rest of the British Isles as Shropshire Blue; a name chosen
simply to help its sales and acceptability. However, in 1980 production
of the cheese stopped as the Milk Marketing Board of Northern
Scotland brutally shut down the creamery killing off a number
of Scottish cheeses and its only blues.
The making of the cheese was however
taken up by the Cheshire cheese maker Elliot Hulme and Harry Hanlin
along with the help and advice of Charlie Chisholm, who worked
at the Castle Stuart Dairy. The first Shropshire Blue from the
farm then appeared at the Nantwich show in 1980. However, soon
after this they too also stopped making the cheese. Fortunately,
the making of the cheese moved to Nottinghamshire when Long Clawson
Dairy and Colston Bassett Dairy took up production. An ironic
return to the area of Shropshire Blues real birth-place in the
early years of the creators life, Andy Williamson.
Shropshire Blue has a flavour somewhere
between Blue Cheshire and Blue Stilton, a creamy orange coloured
paste with blue-green veining; annatto produces the orange colour
and Penicillium roquefortii produces the veining. The cheese is
essentially an orange coloured Stilton style cheese. It is made
from pasteurised cows' milk and using rennet suitable for vegetarians.
The cheese is matured for 12 weeks but it can be matured for a
further 12 weeks to produce a creamier fuller flavoured cheese.
Shropshire Blue is excellent throughout the year.
Each cheese is approximately 20cm
in diameter, 30cm high, weighs 8kg and has a fat content of 48%.
It is excellent on the cheese-board and is also very versatile
in the kitchen; it makes fabulous soups and sauces. It is best
accompanied by good English brown ale and as with Stilton, by
rich fortified wines.