Austerity cheese and a death in the Dales
February 12, 2019 4:14 PM   Subscribe

"Real Wensleydale cheese died in the early 1940s." How? Why? Garius explains in this Twitter thread (unrolled on Thread reader). Let's talk about Wensleydale.

Also linked by MeFi's Own garius: Traditional cheesemaking. More about Kit Calvert, ‘The King of Wensleydale.' Calvert, on farmers taking over the town creamery in the '30s; Calvert, in his own voice, telling a story about the real risk of putting your eggs in one basket..
posted by MonkeyToes (32 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
The cheeses we have now are often the result of extraordinary cheese archeology.

extraordinary cheese archeology

extraordinary cheese archeology

extraordinary cheese archeology

Surely, we live in an age of miracles and wonder.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:27 PM on February 12, 2019 [41 favorites]


[assume Monty Python cheese shop references are taken as read]
posted by Chrysostom at 4:27 PM on February 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


no, no, I'm sorry sir, we are fresh out of the Wensleydale
posted by mwhybark at 4:35 PM on February 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


What about Wallace and Gromit references? Can we
do those?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:38 PM on February 12, 2019 [17 favorites]


...I'll allow two.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:43 PM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Cracking.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:44 PM on February 12, 2019 [27 favorites]


Sniff...sniff...sniff...ahhh! Fee fi fo fum I smell the cheese of an English Mum. Be she alive or be she dead, it's all the same to a Metafilter cheese thread. You know I have a deep fried shrimp emoji, like, a turkey leg emoji, but no cheezmoji? What?
posted by Oyéah at 4:54 PM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


I spent much time in Wensleydale in my youth, running with the Wensleydale Harriers. After hunting, wonderful pub evenings listening to long traditional tales recited in verse. And the cheese, so delicious with a slice of heavy fruit cake, was a great restorative.
posted by anadem at 4:57 PM on February 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


Suddenly, only FOUR types of cheese were allowed to be made.
Cheddar, Cheshire, Leicester and Dunlop.


And ... what now? What happened to Dunlop? Wikipedia coyly notes that "It fell out of popularity some time after the end of the Second World War"; did it not really survive being thrust forward as one of the four?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:11 PM on February 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


What happened to Dunlop

They retired it
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:18 PM on February 12, 2019 [26 favorites]


Well there's 🧀 but it displays as swiss cheese so...

This was fascinating to read. Thanks for posting.
posted by Wretch729 at 5:25 PM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Dales white cheese is tasty, but my wife and I picked up a key of Blue 16 née Dalesman Blue at the Wensleydale Creamery in October 2016. First of all, I don't even like blue cheese, and second of all, what kind of teal blue cheese is found veined through a dark orange substrate, like a selection of the most boring urban cinematography of the last ten years, but this time in cheese form?

Blue 16 tastes sooooooooo good.

I see Blue 16 won Gold at something called the World Cheese Awards. I don't know how any of its competitors tasted, but I do know that if you can get your hands on a block of Blue 16, you should.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:29 PM on February 12, 2019 [14 favorites]


no, no, I'm sorry sir, we are fresh out of the Wensleydale

AHEM.

"Oh, I'm sorry sir, I thought you were referring to me, Mr Wensleydale, that's my name."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:54 PM on February 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


paging Wordshore… paging Wordshore...
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 6:19 PM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]



And yeah, to point out that anyone who thinks cheese ISN'T relevant to Brexit needs to think very Caerphilly about that.


You gouda be kidding!
posted by lalochezia at 6:28 PM on February 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


Dunlop's alive and well. I grew up near where it was made. TBH, most commercial Dunlop is pretty close to cheddar. It's not very strong-flavoured and. yes, it can be a bit rubbery, ha ha. It has a most beautiful melt: smooth, not too stretchy, with a really sweet flavour. A Dunlop empañada would be a joyful, if geographically unlikely, thing.

European protection for Wensleydale? That's gone come Brexit, and there will be fuck all that Yorkshire can do about it.
posted by scruss at 6:32 PM on February 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


European protection for Wensleydale? That's gone come Brexit, and there will be fuck all that Yorkshire can do about it.

I chased down the government's Guidance document (2007) on Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, and it includes an interesting list of product specifications (.pdf). From the specifications: "The cheese making process follows a recipe, where the process for every vat of cheese is documented, recording times, temperatures and acidity levels. However, when working with ̳living‘ cultures, no one day may be the same as the next; the ̳make‘ may be fast or slow, which therefore relies upon the savour faire of the cheese maker, which is learnt over time, to ensure that a cheese of optimum quality in terms of appearance, texture and flavour is produced."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:40 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


And now I'm eating cheese. I hope you are happy, the lot of you
posted by salt grass at 7:41 PM on February 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


MR WENSLEYDALE IS DEAD?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:53 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


No whey! I curd hardly stand any more cheesy puns!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:06 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


"The cheese making process follows a recipe, where the process for every vat of cheese is documented, recording times, temperatures and acidity levels. However, when working with ̳living‘ cultures, no one day may be the same as the next; the ̳make‘ may be fast or slow,

So yes, but that is why cheese makers measure acidity levels (and also clotting times) rather than just relying on rules. For example, you do what is called a flocculation test when you put the rennet in, which means you float a very small bowl on top of the milk and constantly test it by giving it a little push and watching it spin. When it won't spin any more, you record the time, and then use a multiplier on that time which depends on the kind of cheese you want to make (e.g. about 6 times the flocculation time for brie/camembert; about 2-3 times for cheddar), and wait that long before moving on to the next step.

Amateur cheese makers will often instead follow a recipe that says something like "add rennet and wait one hour", which is not going to account for differences between batches of milk, ambient climate, etc.

Same with measuring ph rather than just waiting a set amount of time for acidity to develop.

Anyway, it is definitely true that if you lost the art of making a specific cheese over a couple of generations, it would be hard to revive, but that's as much because of the physical items as anything. Cheesemakers build up a variety of bacteria and moulds in their rooms where they make cheese, and sometimes on surfaces that they deliberately don't scour back to nothing (e.g. wooden shelves, or in morges that you wipe cheeses down with) that transfers the same flavours and ripening styles from one batch of cheese to the next. You'll never get exactly the same environment if you have to build it up again from scratch.

Similarly, the flora that your cows eat and the temperatures they experience due to your habits of when you take them out of the barn, uphill, etc, will likely be consistent from year to year, but not from farmer to farmer, if you have a break in the history. All of that matters hugely for cheese making.

Signed, a frustrated home cheese maker who can never quite reproduce the flavours of exotic cheeses she has tried elsewhere in the world.
posted by lollusc at 9:13 PM on February 12, 2019 [20 favorites]


Also, my favourite cheese history story is about Cheshire cheese. (At least, this is what I heard. Maybe bits of it are urban legend).

The original Cheshire cheese was white, and when people in other parts of the country started making Cheshire cheese, Cheshire people got annoyed about it, and required them to colour it orange so it could be differentiated from real Cheshire. But in the end the non-Cheshire Cheshire cheese became so popular and got such a great reputation that buyers came to expect that Cheshire cheese should be orange, and they wouldn't believe that white cheese was "real" Cheshire, even though that was THE real Cheshire cheese. So Cheshire cheesemakers in Cheshire ended up having to colour their cheese orange too to conform to expectations.
posted by lollusc at 9:16 PM on February 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


I’ve had Wensleydale with cranberries, so I thought I might also enjoy Aldi’s stunty Wensleydale with raspberries and white chocolate in a heart-shaped dark red wax.

It was not good.

Also, I first learned about Wensleydale cheese here. (I see that others have beat me to this reference.)
posted by 41swans at 9:19 PM on February 12, 2019


Between this and the Brexit adventures (start here), Garius is rapidly attaining national treasure status.
posted by Omission at 12:08 AM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Anyone else notice this at the end of the thread reader:
(oh, and I blame you for this thread @cstross. I'd managed to avoid the whole elite cheese nonsense until you tweeted about it)
Somehow, the name cstross rings a bell here in MeFi land.
Nice to know the backgound.
posted by MtDewd at 5:58 AM on February 13, 2019


SHUT THAT BLOODY BOUZOUKI OFF!
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:58 AM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Somehow, the name cstross rings a bell here in MeFi land. Nice to know the backgound.

We seem to end up in each other's Twitter mentions a fair bit at the moment. Mostly because we both have, in (very different) literary terms, Eldritch Horrors functioning at the highest levels of the British government. I suspect that's a very small area of overlapping circles, in Venn Diagram terms.

Glad the Twitter thread was of interest! Believe it or not, it actually started life as a half-written Metafilter comment that I never finished. I was going to add it to the Metafilter post a while back on British food, as the recent history of cheese is a really good example of how things like rationing can have an enormous impact on culinary variety. I left that too late though and forgot about it.

When I saw the whole 'elitist cheese' thing going on, I remembered I'd started writing about cheese and rewrote it as a Twitter thread instead.

Didn't quite expect it to go as viral as it did. I guess people really love cheese!
posted by garius at 7:25 AM on February 13, 2019 [16 favorites]


What happened to Dunlop
They retired it


Needlessly cheezy.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:05 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Paging Wordshore. Wordshore to the white courtesy phone.
posted by billiebee at 3:55 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


in re the matter of

I see Blue 16 won Gold at something called the World Cheese Awards. I don't know how any of its competitors tasted, but I do know that if you can get your hands on a block of Blue 16, you should.

a pursuant link.
posted by mwhybark at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2019


mwhybark, last time I tried they told me they didn’t ship to the US.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:55 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


yes sir, fresh out
posted by mwhybark at 8:42 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


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