Also: Single Gloucester, Double Gloucester, Thin Gloucester, Thick Gloucester
A pasteurised Cow's milk cheese formed in large rounds with very hard rind, occasionally carrying traces of mould. Pale orange colour, very firm. The orange colour of the cheese comes these days from annatto (a South American seed) but may traditionally have been derived from carrot juice or Ladies Bedstraw (Galium verum). Gloucester cheeses were formerly made only with milk from Gloucester cows, a breed now almost extinct. The first reference to the name, as 'Double Gloucester' we can find is an advertisement in 'The Ipswich Journal' for Saturday 6 May 1758, where it is given without explanation so was presumably already well-known.
Pretty much all the Gloucester Cheese sold today is 'Double Gloucester', implying there ought to be a 'Single' version, though it is extraordinarily difficult to pin down. The 'Double' is widely made, so it is only the 'Single' which has been granted, in 1996, a European Designated Origin. The official description is "a full-fat hard cheese - uncoloured - made from pasteurised or unpasteurised cow's milk produced in Gloucestershire", quoting, as the historical source, 'The Rural Economy of Gloucestershire' (1792) by William Marshall, which says...
CHEESE The species of cheese is in respect to quality uniformly new milk one meal best making. But in regard to size the species varies. It is either double or single thick or thin. The thin cheeses when marketable weigh from nine to twelve pounds each the thick from fifteen to twenty five pounds....
...which is not necessarily all that enlightening as to which is 'Single' and which is 'Double', or 'Thick' or 'Thin'. The British Cheese Board are equally uncertain; "Was it due to the double skimming required of milk from Gloucester cows (cream rose slowly therefore had to be done twice)? Was it related to the size of the cheese? Was it the fact that Double had cream added taken from the morning’ milk and added to the evening milk for making? Was it because Single Gloucester was half the size of a Double Gloucester?" We don't know.
Daylesford Organic Single Gloucester Cheese 200g
How to look after your DG? 'The English Art of Cookery: According to the Present Practice', by Richard Briggs (1788) says:
North Wiltshire and double Gloucester cheese should be as yellow as gold of a fine smooth coat and the taste a little sharp. The way to make it mellow and fine is to put it into a cellar and cut a hole in the middle and feed it every day with mountain wine for one month, then it will be mellow and fine. Thin Gloucester cheese is chosen by its closeness and the colour inclining to yellow, the taste mild and the coat clear and smooth, if it is full of eyes and pale or very yellow it is poor
The rind on DG formerly had a reputation for being impossibly hard - cheesemongers were said to have jumped on it to check its quality and Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens has "A man with the gout in his right hand - and everywhere else - can't expect to get through a Double Gloucester without hurting himself."
Original Receipt in 'The Cook and Housekeeper's Dictionary' by Mary Eaton (Eaton 1822);
GLOUCESTER CHEESE. This article is made of milk immediately from the cow; and if it be too hot in the summer, a little skim milk or water is added to it, before the rennet is put in. As soon as the curd is come it is broken small, and cleared of the whey. The curd is set in the press for about a quarter of an hour, in order to extract the remainder of the liquid. It is then put into the cheese tub again, broken small, and scalded with water mixed with a little whey. When the curd is settled, the liquor is poured off; the curd is put into a vat, and worked up with a little salt when about half full. The vat is then filled up, and the whole is turned two or three times in it, the edges being pared, and the middle rounded up at each turning. At length, the curd being put into a cloth, it is placed in the press, then laid on the shelves, and turned every day till it becomes sufficiently firm to bear washing.
From: The Book of Household Management' edited by Isabella Beeton, 1861 (See Mrs.B)
Gloucester cheese is much milder in its taste than the Cheshire. There are two kinds of Gloucester cheese, - single and double. Single Gloucester is made of skimmed milk, or of the milk deprived of half the cream; Double Gloucester is a cheese that pleases almost every palate: it is made of the whole milk and cream.
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