Craftsmanship in the creamery
So, we’ve got the milk, and the creamery is packed with artisan cheese-makers eager to ply their trade.
Our Head Cheese-maker Mario has been at the Dairy for more than 30 years, and was in charge of making our Traditional Rennet Stilton three decades ago. He has fond memories of Robin and Ben's grandfather, and now keeps a watchful eye as our cheeses come to life.
What happens next?
Separating the curds and whey
The next step is to add rennet and starter cultures to the milk, along with the blue mould spores that give Stilton its distinctive flavour. The would-be cheese separates into curds and whey, before our cheesemakers set to work on the milling process.
Milling involves breaking the curd into small pieces, which form the basis of the cheese. A measure of salt is added to the milled curd, which is then transferred to cylindrical molds, called 'hoops'.
After four days, during which the curd drains and develops a delicious smooth texture, our cheesemakers begin 'rubbing up' the cheese. They remove the hoop and smooth the edges of the roundel with a domestic knife. This seals the cheese - staving off the growth of blue mould until a later stage in the maturation process.
The five-week wait
It takes about five weeks for the cheese to be ready for the next stage of production. During this time, the roundels are stored in maturing rooms, where they gradually develop the gorgeous richness that is so much a part of their appeal.
Piercing and dispatch
Once the five weeks is up, the roundels are pierced, to enable the blue mould to develop and give the cheese its characteristic 'veiny' appearance. Piercing is repeated a week later, before each cheese is individually graded, packaged and dispatched to our hungry customers.