9.22.2009

Stilton Finds a Home

ye olde stilton

Now, I know that Stilton Cheese to many is an acquired taste. Personally, I prefer Jarlsberg, Grana (Parmesan), and Manchego. Generally, I think it's better to stick with a sheep's milk cheese, and sheep's milk in general when you can. Did you know that sheep's milk is possibly better for you (and your child) than cow's milk. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. almost 50% more protein than cow's milk.
2. it contains twice the calcium and probiotic cultures than cow's milk.
3. provides more in various vitamins.
4. less sodium content.
5. though it contains fat, it's fat is more beneficial than many other milks.
6. much better for your intestines and digestion than cow's milk.
7. because sheep produce a thicker milk, it is not necessary to add stablilizers for yogurt like one must do with cow's milk.
8. easier to find without growth hormones than your regular milk from cows.

sheep's milk cheese

Apparently, sheep were the first domesticated animal. Cows came later. However, as the cultivation of livestock progressed, it was easier to have the cow. Why? well, it seems the cow produces much more milk on average. A sheep can give just one quart of milk per day (a high-producing breed, 1.5 quarts); a goat, 3 quarts; a cow, 14 quarts. The lower yield is also why goat’s and sheep’s milk products are usually more expensive than their cow’s milk counterparts.
Who would have thought?

Anyway, what's all of this rambling about sheep's milk have to do with Stilton Cheese? Nothing. I just decided to go off on a small tangent. But, if you are a fan of Stilton, you will be surprised and pleased to hear that proof has come that Stilton cheese was first produced in the town of Stilton. I heard today on NPR that a local historian in the English village of Stilton had discovered an early 18th Century letter that reportedly provides a recipe for the making of the cheese. It had been debated that the cheese, mentioned by the writer/traveler Daniel Defoe in 1724 as the 'English Parmesan', might have gotten its name merely because it is where the cheese was sold. It is known that it was produced in larger quantities in the counties of Leiscestershire and Nottinghamshire. However, now, with this discovery, it is proven that Stilton probably did produce Stilton Cheese.

However, before you start rejoicing in the streets, it is worth noting that in the few hundred years since its first production the original Stilton Cheese might have differed from its later blue/green veined counterpart. It seems it started life as a harder, rich, cream-cheese type of product. It is not indicated whether the blue/green veins were available at the earlier time, or if it came later - maybe by accident.

And there you go..... a bit of trivia to mark the mid week and first day of Autumn/Fall equinox.....! What better way than the pungent taste of Stilton to mark the end of Summer.

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