On a roll – Double Gloucester

Certainly one of my favourite cheeses and my kids are big fans too. Double Gloucester has all the texture and appeal of a cheddar but has a richer, creamier taste, which makes for a pleasant change.

There are a number of small artisanal Double Gloucester makers but it pretty hard to find outside of the UK. Today, a number of major manufactures export Double Gloucesters. That said, even these are of a great quality and your average Gloucester is equal to the better quality cheddars.

There are a number of suggestions for the name “Double” Gloucester. There is also a single Gloucester, which is a little harder to find. There is no definitive answer but the main contenders are because the creamy milk had to be skimmed twice to make the double variety; or because cream from the morning milk was added to the evening milk, or simply because a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is typically twice size of a single one. I like the second for no other reason than it sounds so Victorian rustic and Hardyesque.

Cheese has been made in the Severn Vale from the milk of Cotswold Sheep since the early middle ages. So much cheese was being made in Gloucester by the late 1400s that a permanent market was set up in Eastgate Street in the City of Gloucester, which still operates today. By the late 1500s cow’s milk was more popular for cheese making and the milk from Old Gloucester cows was seen as highly prized. The high carotene levels from the local grasses, which was prominent in the heavier cream, lent the cheese its orange colour. Today, annatto is added to achieve the same result by larger dairies and saffron and beet by some artisanal makers.

In 1789 production of Gloucester cheese was estimated at more than 1,000 tonnes, but by the end of the 19th century faced by more popular varieties production had almost ceased and the cheese almost disappeared. But the resurgence in interest in rustic cheeses in the later 20th century led to a revival of Double Gloucester.

Double Gloucester is made in traditional wheels with a natural rind on some farms whilst in larger dairies it is made in 20 kg blocks, which make the cheese ideal for pre-packing.

I find the cheese very rich and creamy. It has the same aroma and texture of a cheddar but doesn’t have the sharpness. It is typically a semi hard cheese and easy on its own or in a sarnie. It grates well too.

It does have a slight saltiness so I would recommend a white wine with this cheese. A Sancerre or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc of which there are many great choices.

Double Gloucester becomes very hard as it ages making it perfect for the annual cheese rolling event at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester.


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