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Dorset Blue Vinny Cheese

(Or Vinney, Viney)

A semi-skimmed cow's milk cheese of the Cheddar type with penicillin culture. The cheese is coated with flour and mould and ripened for 2 to 5 months, being pierced with extra mould after 1 month.It is made in arge rounds, up to 12 months old, described as white with blue, not greenish, veining. Slightly crumbly, thick irregular rind. Piquant, peppery, mild to strong flavour.

Image: Woodbridge Farm www.dorsetblue.com

Known at least since the 1840s, the word 'vinny' (or 'vinney' 'finney') just means 'mouldy'. The 'Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer' of Saturday 11 April 1868 provides an explanation:
"Let us. for instance, take the adjective vinney, evidently from the old-English finey, signifying, in the first place, mouldy ; and since mould generally blue or purplish, having gradually attached to it the signification of colour. Thus we find the mouldy cheese not only named "vinney," but roan heifer called a "vinney heifer." The most singular part, however, exemplifying the changes of words, remains to be told. Since cheese, from its colour, was called "vinney," the word was applied to some particular cheese, which was mouldier and bluer than others, and the adjective was thus changed into a substantive. And we now have "vinney," and the tautology, "blue vinney," as the name of a particular kind of cheese distinguished from the other local cheeses,known as "ommary" and "rammel" "

Blue Vinny was one of the cheeses mentioned in Monty Python's 'Cheese Shop' sketch, which was odd, as that was in 1971, during the unfortunate twenty-year period during which Vinny was not manufactured.

Vinney formerly had a reputation for being hard in the extreme, a story related in Jo Draper's 'Dorset Food' goes "Man had a Blue Vinney cheese that was too hard t'eat, wanted wheelbarrow wheel, zoo he drilled a hole droo the idle of the cheese an' putt en on. Ader fifteen years hard wear the wheelbarrow fell t'pieces, and 'ee sold the wheel for woold iron."

Image: birkdalecheese.com

Our correspondent Donna Deeks reminds us of the Dorset Blue scandal of the late 1970s when, it is said, second-rate Stiltons were sold as “Dorset Blue” cheeses.

Philip Creed has compiled an extensive bibliography of Dorset Blue Cheese, at: www.academia.edu

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