Around 330,000 tonnes of Cheddar are consumed in the UK each year.
Despite imitation in many other countries, Cheddar will always be explicitly associated with England and more particularly, the West Country.
There are over 700 named cheeses available in Britain , with a British Cheese for every occasion.
It’s official. Cheddar is the nation’s favourite cheese according to research released by the British Cheese Board (BCB).
1 in 3 who voted for their favourite cheese opted for Cheddar which is one of Britain ‘s oldest cheeses and is bought by around 90% of all households. Whether it is mild, medium, mature, vintage, smoked or West Country Farmhouse, the majority of respondents felt that Cheddar worked for them due to its versatility.
Cheese experts across the country and the world are constantly voting and presenting awards for the best cheese, but to date there has been a distinct lack of opportunities for the nation to decide and choose their favourite cheese. In response, The BCB launched ‘The People’s Cheese’ award in August.
Despite producing over 700 named cheeses in the UK including Camembert, Brie, Mozzarella and Gruyere, the majority of Brits are choosing traditional Ploughman’s lunches or the much loved Cheddar cheese and pickle sandwich as their favourite way of consuming the top British cheese. Cheddar is the most purchased and consumed cheese in the world, with all modern variations originating from a recipe developed around the Cheddar Gorge in Somerset hundreds of years ago.
Blue cheese, and in particular Blue Stilton, proved to be the second most popular cheese (17%). Rightly known as the ‘King of English Cheese’, Stilton is an acquired taste – you either love it or you hate it – you can’t be ambivalent about it!
Regionally consumers were particularly loyal to their locally produced cheese; third and fourth places went to two of England’s oldest cheeses: Cheshire, whose roots can be traced back to the Roman occupation of Chester, and Wensleydale whose recipe was developed by Cistercian Monks in North Yorkshire in the 11th Century. Both are loved for their crumbly, creamy texture and are firm favourites in their respective historical heartlands. Red Leicester came in at number five, followed in sixth place by another crumbly cheese – Lancashire.
Some unusual cheeses were nominated including Lancashire Christmas Pudding, Chocolate Cheese and even Cheddar with Mint Choc Chips and Cherries. More conventional blended cheeses such as White Stilton with Apricots and Wensleydale with Cranberries did well, but not well enough to get into the top 10. Relative British newcomers to the cheese world that did, included our wonderful British Brie (from Cornwall and Somerset ), Cornish Yarg, and various Goats milk cheeses.
Nigel White, Secretary of the British Cheese Board says: “The People’s Cheese campaign has been a fantastic opportunity for the general public to have their say and recognise the outstanding range and quality of cheese being produced in our country. I am not surprised that Cheddar has come out on top due to its versatility and heritage. These findings reflect the fact that provenance is becoming increasingly important to consumers. British Cheese Week is an opportunity for people to be more daring and creative with their cheese choices, breaking out of their usual moulds.”
Philip Crawford, Chairman of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers commented: “We are delighted to see Cheddar voted number one. It’s also encouraging to see Great British regional cheeses take pride of place in the hearts of UK cheese lovers. Of course, the future of our nation’s cheesemakers depends on the continued support of British consumers and their appreciation of the importance of provenance – Cheddar is made all over the world but nothing beats the flavour of the real thing, made in Britain.”
For recipe ideas and more background on British Cheese visit www.britishcheese.com
The top ten cheeses
- Blue Cheese inc Stilton
- Red Leicester
- Double Gloucester
- Cornish Yarg
- Goats Cheese