There is no denying that Stilton is synonymous with Christmas. It is as festive as tins of Quality Street, Christmas crackers and cranberry sauce. It would simply not be Christmas without this delicious, creamy, infamous English blue cheese.
Crowell Bishop Creamy is one of the UK's leading Stilton producers and has a long-standing relationship with Paxton & Whitfield. Our Stilton flavour profile is exclusive to Paxton & Whitfield and customers often tell us that it’s the best they’ve ever tasted. The texture is creamy and the flavour mellow, with a buttery richness that melts in the mouth.
It was a pleasure to catch up with the cheesemakers at Cropwell Bishop to find out how your Stiltons are maturing in preparation for Christmas. Read on to find out more...
Cropwell Bishop Creamery’s Blue Stilton is carefully crafted by hand, using methods that have changed little since the 17th Century. To allow this Stilton to develop its unique flavour, it is aged for up to 12 weeks – so your Christmas Stilton starts being made in early October.
It is made using 78 litres of fresh milk, which is sourced from a small number of Peak District family farms. Once arriving at the creamery, the milk is pasteurised and vegetarian rennet and starter culture is added to the milk, along with the blue mould that give Stilton its distinctive flavour.
Next, the curds and whey are separated using a traditional hand-ladling technique. Then Cropwell Bishop’s cheesemakers start ‘rubbing up'. They smooth the edges of the cheese with a knife, sealing it to stop the growth of blue mould until later in the process. The cheese is left to mature for five weeks and is hand-turned daily.
Now, five weeks after the cheese-making process began, the young cheese is pierced to enable the blue mould to start to develop and give the Stilton its characteristic 'veiny' appearance. Piercing is repeated again a week later and the cheese continues to mature. Towards the end of November, at between eight and nine weeks old, Howard, Cropwell Bishop Creamery’s cheese expert, individually grades each Stilton.
We’re nearly there! October seems like a long time ago, but since then your Stilton has been carefully matured by the team of expert cheesemakers. Graded for the final time, the Stilton is hand wrapped and sent to Paxton & Whitfield's Cotswold cheese maturation rooms for the final leg of its journey to your Christmas table.
Top Tips to Serve your Christmas Stilton
Robin Skailes, whose family have owned Cropwell Bishop Creamery for three generations, shares his top tips for serving your Stilton this festive season:
1) Make sure you bring cheese up to room temperature before eating - Stilton will require at least one hour.
2) Place the Stilton on a big plate, it's always useful to have room around the cheese to place biscuits or accompaniments. Balance stronger cheese with heavier flavours. Stilton and Port is a classic we all know, but Stilton also tastes great with Barley wine (ale) and most beers.
3) Plan for 30g of cheese per person, unless you're a Stilton lover, then you can serve more!
Paxton's Stilton can be purchased as cut piece, a Mini Waxed Stilton, Half Baby Stilton, Whole Baby Stilton, Half Whole Stilton and Whole Stilton - perfect for any sized festivities. Our delightful and giftable 250g Stilton Jars and 500g Stilton Jars are also very popular choices.