Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Production Area||Wensleydale, Yorkshire|
|Milk||Cow & Ewe|
|Fat content||approx. 45%|
|Protein content||approx. ??%|
|Dimensions/weight||??cm x ??cm thick/??-??kg|
|Aging time||approx. ?? months|
Wensleydale cheese is a hard cheese produced in Wensleydale, Yorkshire. There are two types. White Wensleydale is usually shaped into a flat disc that is highly pressed and has a honey flavour to it. Blue Wensleydale has blue veins and comes in large drums. Both are suitable for vegetarians.
Wensleydale cheese was first made by French Cistercian monks from the Roquefort region settled in Wensleydale, Yorkshire. They built a monastery at Fors , but some years later the monks moved to Jervaulx in Lower Wensleydale. They brought with them a recipe for making cheese from ewes' milk. During the 1300s cows' milk began to be used instead of ewes' and the character of the cheese began to change. A little ewes' milk was still mixed in since it gave a more open texture and allowed the development of the blue mould. At that time Wensleydale was almost always blue with the white 'un-blue' variety almost unknown. Nowadays, the opposite is true, with blue Wensleydale rarely seen. When the monastery was dissolved in 1540 the local farmers continued making the cheese right up until the Second World War, during which most milk in the country was used for the making of 'Government Cheddar '. Even after rationing ceased in 1954, cheese making did not return to pre- war levels.
The Wensleydale pastures give the cheese the unique flavour for which it is renowned. Good Wensleydale has a supple, crumbly, moist texture and resembles a young Caerphilly. The flavour suggests wild honey balanced with a fresh acidity. It matures in two to four months and has a fat content of 45 %.
Dairy Crest and the Management Buy Out
In May 1992 Dairy Crest, a subsidiary of the Milk Marketing Board, closed the Hawes creamery , the only one in the dale, and transferred production of Wensleydale cheese to Lancashire!
The ex-managers took up the fight and, against the odds, eventually persuaded the owners to sell the creamery to them. A management buy-out was agreed in November 1992. Wallace & Gromit followed, but had no link to the resurgence of cheesemaking in Hawes, this was entirely due to the efforts of the cheese loving and local communities.
Wallace and Gromit
In the 1990s, sales had fallen so low that production was risk of being suspended. Fortunately, inspiration struck when the popular Wallace and Gromit short, A Close Shave, had Wallace mention Wensleydale as a particular favourite cheese of his. The company contacted Aardman Animations for a license for a special brand of Wallace and Gromit Wensleydale cheese, which proved to be an enormous success.
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