A sticky orange rind with a pungent and spirited aroma. The texture
can vary from firm to soft and creamy depending on the season.
Charles Martell moved to Laurel Farm, Dymock
in 1972. He had a keen interest in the Gloucester breed of cattle and
at that time only 68 cows remained in the entire world. Charles bought
as many as he could, revived the Gloucester Cattle Society, of which he
is now the patron, and set about making cheese with the milk. The making
of cheese was not undertaken at first for the cheese itself but for the
publicity it might bring to the cattle. The total number of female cows
has now recovered to 450 and his own herd has grown to twenty-five.
Stinking Bishop is said to be derived from
a cheese once made by Cistercian monks in the village of Dymock. Monks
have always been associated with the production of 'washed rind' cheeses.
These are cheeses which are washed in a variety of liquids. They are generally
full-flavoured with lively aromas. Stinking Bishop is no exception and
uses perry as its wash. It has a sticky yellow-orange rind and smells
of old socks. The paste is soft and creamy, the flavour is delicious and,
although full and distinctive, it is not quite as pungent as the odour
may imply! At certain times of year the paste becomes firmer and slightly
crumbly. The cheese is similar to the famous French Epoisses which has
been banned from the public transport system in Paris. In fact, at a recent
cheese show in France they were amazed to discover that Stinking Bishop
was made in England.
The cheese takes its name from the variety
of pear used to make the washing solution. Stinking Bishop pears are one
of over 100 varieties which are grown on the Gloucestershire-Herefordshire
border. During the cheese-making process the curds are washed in perry
before being ladled into moulds. To increase the moisture content and
to encourage bacterial activity, salt is not added until the cheeses are
removed from the moulds. The cheese is then washed in more perry as it
matures. This process takes six to eight weeks.
Charles is only able to make a limited
amount of cheese using milk from his own cattle. Keeping this small operation
financially viable requires him to buy an amount of Fresian milk from
a neighbouring farm and, because of this, Charles pasteurises his milk.
Each cheese is approximately 20cm in diameter,
4cm deep and weighs 2kg.