At one time everyone in Lancashire ate Lancashire Cheese and almost all farms in the county made it in one form or another. Evidence suggests that cheese was being made in Lancashire from the 13th Century; however the style, texture and taste is unlikely to be what we recognise as Lancashire cheese today.
Each farmer's wife would use the surplus milk from their farm to produce cheese that would sustain their family and supplement their household income. Historical records show Lancashire cheese was being transported by boat to London from Liverpool in the 1600's.
Then in approximately 1890 a Lancashire County Council employee named Joseph Gornall began visiting all the farms in Lancashire, observing the cheese making activity and giving practical advice on production and method. His aim was to standardise Lancashire Cheese production across the county and create a formal recipe and method - one that is still used to this day.
Back in the 1890's Lancashire farms tended to be small holdings and farmers often did not have enough surplus milk each day to make a whole cheese. So without refrigeration the best way of keeping surplus milk was to turn it into curd and store it overnight at room temperature. This curd was then mixed with the curd from the following day and in some cases blended again with the day after.
This traditional method is unique to Lancashire Cheese and is still adhered to by Lancashire cheese makers today. It is also the reason why Traditional Lancashire Cheese, which is known as Creamy or Tasty Lancashire - depending oin its age - has such a rich buttery flavour and when melted gives a smooth and even consistency. It probably makes the best cheese on toast in the world!
Creamy Lancashire cheese is matured for between 4 and 12 weeks. Anything that is matured for longer is classified as Tasty Lancashire. Tasty Lancashire can be aged for up to 24 months.
Crumbly Lancashire is a more recent creation and is the style of Lancashire Cheese that is better known outside of the region. Crumbly Lancashire was created around 50 years ago when Cheese Factors in Lancashire demanded a younger, less expensive cheese that could compete with competitors such as Cheshire, Caerphilly and Wensleydale.
Crumbly or "New" Lancashire was created and is made with only one day's milking and in a similar way to Cheshire cheese.
Is it Creamy, is it Tasty, is it Crumbly?
No! It’s all three. It may seem slightly confusing but Lancashire Cheese is produced in 3 main styles:
- Creamy Lancashire
- Tasty Lancashire
- Crumbly Lancashire
Creamy and Tasty are traditional Lancashire Cheese styles which have been made using the same method for more than 120 years. Crumbly Lancashire is a more recent addition and was first created in the 1960's.
Creamy Lancashire is a fluffy, open textured cheese with a rich creamy flavour and smooth buttery finish. It is an excellent culinary cheese and when melted it maintains a smooth, even consistency.
- Classic cheese on toast
- Welsh Rarebit
Every day eating in sandwiches or with pasta
This is the more mature relative of Creamy Lancashire and is also made in the same traditional method. Tasty Lancashire is a delightfully rich cheese with a delicious mature nutty bite on the finish.
- Ploughman's lunch; lump of cheese, pickle, crusty bread, real ale
Cheese and onion pie
Crumbly Lancashire is a more mild cheese with a young, fresh milky finish and slightly tangy flavour. It is also the only Lancashire Cheese that is also made by dairies from outside of the county.
- Accompanying fruit cake
- With a crisp Granny Smith apple
- Crumbled over salads
There are nine small cheesemakers in the Preston area making Lancashire Cheese - two of the largest being: