Traditional, hard cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a shape of cylinder with natural rind. Spurred on by the success of Ardman’s “Wallace and Gromit” movies, Wensleydale has enjoyed a revival in recent years. Crumbly, pale and sweet, with a fresh acidity, it is wonderful in salads and on cheeseboards for special occasions.
This cheese is based on the recipe that can be traced back to the Cistercian monks who came over with William the Conqueror in the 11 century. It is believed, and reported by the Information Britain website that monks originally from Roquefort settled in the North Yorkshire town of Wensleydale, and began making the cheese in the 1300s.
There are two types of the British classic Wensleydale: White, a flat disc that is highly-pressed and has a honey flavour to it and Blue or Yorkshire, which has blue veins, double cream and is a cousin of Stilton – the blue variety comes in large drums.
When young, Wensleydale has a milky freshness and hint of lemon not dissimilar to young Cheshire, Caerphilly or Crumbly Lancashire. As it matures so the flavours become more complex with a slightly sweet honey flavoured background. Wensleydale is a crumbly cheese but becomes firmer as it ages and in the case of the traditional cloth bound cheeses much drier.
Wensleydale is also one of the many cheeses that are often blended with cranberries or apricots, the sweet fruit working well with the sharpness of the cheese and providing a burst of sweetness in the mouth. Cut a slice of this cheese and it is studded with dark red cranberries or pale orange apricot chunks, an ideal way to also add colour to your cheeseboard.
Traditional uses of Wensleydale include serving with fruit cake and an apple for a perfect luchtime or tea time snack; with crusty bread or with hot apple based desserts such as Apple pie or Apple Crumble. It is also at home on any cheeseboard where its fresh, milky sweetness contrasts with the more intense flavours of stronger cheeses.
Much Wensleydale is is blended with apricots, cranberries, blueberries, mango with papaya, pineapple and Tiptree Marmalade.