Wensleydale Cheese Review – Cheese a Week #13


I was at Sendik’s Market this week and picked up a couple new cheeses, one of which was Wensleydale cheese with blueberries. I’ve never heard of Wensleydale and I’m excited to try it for week 13!

Origins

Wensleydale cheese is named after its place of origin, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, England. It was first made by French Cistercian (a religious order) monks who settled in the Yorkshire Dales around 1150 AD. These monks used sheep’s milk and mold to create Wensleydale cheese, which was actually first a blue cheese. The recipes for this cheese were passed along to farmers’ wives after the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530’s.

By the mid 1800’s, cow’s milk was used instead of sheep’s milk to make the cheese. In addition, the industrial revolution had caused the style of the cheese to be altered. It was no longer brine-washed, it was harder, and it was sold when it was still white and absent of mold. Farmhouse-style Wensleydale cheese mostly disappeared.

In 1897, Edward Chapman founded the Wensleydale Creamery and started to make this new style of Wensleydale cheese at scale. In 1966, the Creamery was sold to the Milk Marketing Board but was later bought back by ex-employees in 1992. Wensleydale Creamery is the only cheese manufacturer that still makes the cheese in Wensleydale.

Today, Wensleydale cheese has officially received protected status as originating from Yorkshire by the European Union.

This particular Wensleydale cheese that I’m trying this week is made by Somerdale International in the UK, who is the leading exporter of British cheese to the USA.

Taste

Rich. That’s what this cheese is. It’s like eating a slightly undercooked blueberry pancake with a tab of butter on top (I mean that in the best way possible). It’s sweet and creamy and the blueberry comes through strong. This Wensleydale is the sweetest cheese I’ve tasted so far, but it also finishes with a subtle tang.

Eating Wensleydale with crackers, crusty bread, and other savory foods I think make it taste better because of the contrast of sweet and savory.

Recipe            

Try Wensleydale cheese in this mouth-watering leek, ham hock and Wensleydale gratin recipe (about halfway down the page).

Pairs Well With

Wensleydale cheese is suited to be paired with sweet things, which is why this particular cheese is made with blueberries and why this type of cheese is often made with cranberries as well. However, I think the blueberries add enough sweetness to this cheese and that savory foods would complement it even better.

Food – Fruitcake, crusty bread, prosciutto

Wine – Riesling, Chardonnay

Beer – Scottish Ale, Stout

Wensleydale Cheese Trivia

Wallace and Gromit once joined forces with the Wensleydale Creamery to produce “Wallace and Gromit Wensleydale.” The release of the new cheese boosted sales of Wensleydale by 23% in UK supermarkets in 2005, helping Wensleydale Creamery tremendously during tough financial times.

Next week I try mobay cheese, which is actually two cheeses in one!

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