Stichelton is a new cheese made to an old recipe, crafted from unpasteurized, organic cow's milk by Joe Schneider on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire.
Stichelton is made to the recipe for a traditional, raw milk Stilton and, in itself, this is a story with an interesting twist. The name "Stilton" is protected under European Union law and therefore has a number of rules attached to its production. However, in a voluntary move in 1989, the Stilton Makers Association decreed that all Stilton must be made from pasteurized milk. This decision was in response to a food scare, although the actual culprit was never established. Therefore, although for centuries traditional Stilton was always made from unpasteurized milk, under European Union law, this is no longer permissible. As such, the cheese is called Stichelton.
The production of Stichelton calls for very small quantities of starter culture and rennet, and the resulting, delicate curd is hand-ladled from the vat to drain, and left to acidify overnight.
Stichelton Dairy is a partnership between the owners of the Welbeck estate, William and Alison Parente, the cheesemaker Joe Schneider and Randolph Hodgson of Neal's Yard Dairy. The Parente's estate has organic land, an organic herd of 150 Friesian-Holstein cows, and they provide the quality of milk needed to make great cheese.
The idea for the cheese itself came from Randolph Hodgson, whose experience with farmhouse cheese and overwhelming interest in restoring a lost traditional cheese, led him to unite Joe's cheesemaking skills with the estate.
Stichelton has a rusty-colored, orange-brown rind with indentations from the piercing needles. The interior is creamy-white, with delicate veins of blue-green mold.
Flavors are fruity and reminiscent of apples, with underlying nutty, toasty notes and long-lasting savory flavors. There is also a spicy element from the blue mold.
Flavors expand and develop in the mouth and have a long finish. The texture is rich and creamy with a semisoft paste.