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Stilton is a cow’s milk cheese produced in the English counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire. While there is a white variety, Stilton is most renowned as a blue cheese. Overseen by the Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association since 1936, Stilton gained Certification Trademark status in 1966, and was awarded PDO status in 1996, protecting its name within the EU.


Stilton cheese rose to prominence in the early 18th century. William Stukeley mentioned Stilton in 1722, noting its high value. The village of Stilton, a key stop on the Great North Road, helped spread its fame. Daniel Defoe, a traveler of the era, described Stilton cheese served with mites or maggots, a common practice of the time.

The cheese most likely originated from Quenby Hall, made by housekeeper Elizabeth Scarbrow and later popularized by her daughter Frances and innkeeper Cowper Thornhill. By the late 18th century, Stilton was produced in many villages across Leicestershire and Rutlandshire.

Production Process

Traditionally, Stilton was an unpressed cream cheese made with night cream and morning milk, left to drain gradually. Once firm, the cheese was placed in wooden hoops and turned daily until a crust formed. Today, Stilton is made with pasteurized milk, blue mold cultures, and vegetarian rennet, with production and maturation involving various modern techniques.

The cheese is cylindrical with a natural crust and characteristic blue veins. It takes around nine to twelve weeks to mature, with a fat content of at least 48% in the dry matter.

Regulations and Distribution

Stilton can only be produced in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire using pasteurized local milk. As of 2016, six dairies are licensed to produce Stilton, subject to regular audits. The cheese is protected by PDO status, ensuring authenticity and quality.

Although Stilton cannot be produced in its namesake village due to PDO restrictions, the cheese remains a symbol of British cheesemaking excellence.

Culinary Uses

Stilton’s crumbly, creamy texture and rich, complex flavor make it versatile in the kitchen. It pairs well with celery, pears, crackers, and bread, and can be used in soups, salads, and sauces. Traditionally, Stilton is enjoyed with barley wine or port, and is a popular choice during Christmas celebrations.

Types of Stilton

Blue Stilton is the most well-known variety, characterized by its blue veins and robust flavor. White Stilton, which lacks the blue mold, is often used as a base for dessert cheeses with added fruits like apricots, mango, or ginger.

Important Facts

Country of Origin United Kingdom
Specific Origin Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire
Certification PDO (1996)
Milk Type Cow’s milk

Best Pairings for Stilton Cheese

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