Sunday, 17 April 2011

That Damned PDO Thing Again


The Chairman had the good fortune to taste some Stichelton cheese over the weekend. Stichelton is the old name for the village of Stilton and Stichelton cheese is a traditional Stilton made with unpasteurised milk and rennet from calves’ stomachs.

However, as it’s made from unpasteurised milk and does not use factory produced rennet, it cannot be officially classed as a Stilton due to the rules of the EU Protected Designation of Origin.

This is somewhat ironic considering Stichelton is made in exactly the same manner as Stilton was in days of yore. Modern Stilton is a pale imitation, yet is classed by the PDO as genuine. This is a travesty, as any taste comparison will prove.

Once again the EU conspires to dumb down our historic cheeses and turn them into plastic imitations of what they used to be – with the connivance of the Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association, who are more interested in protectionism than quality. Were they interested at all in quality, then Stichelchton would be admitted, and in the premier position too.

The Chairman gleaned the following from The Foodie Bugle blog:

“The Stilton Cheese Makers Association is full of praise and admiration the Stichelton Dairy team and on a more individual basis they would have been willing to have included Stichelton within the Stilton nomenclature. However, a decision has been taken by the SCMA that not every cheese maker will have the ‘same high level of hygiene standards as the Stichelton Dairy’. By overriding the rules for one producer, the SCMA maintains it would set a precedent, and the danger of bacterial contamination would rise.”

The next irony is that it was one of this self-serving association’s dairies (there are only six dairies licensed to use the Stilton name) that caused a health scare in 1989 which led to the decision to only use pasteurised milk, which was subsequently enshrined in the PDO status. The lunatics are indeed running the asylum.

The Chairman normally has to mature common or garden Stilton himself in a Tupperware box for a few days at room temperature before it’s anywhere near ripe. Stichelton, however, may be kept in the fridge and will be guaranteed to be deliciously ripe at any time without any prior preparation.

If you have the opportunity to taste some Stichelton, then you are urged to do so, although be warned that it is pricey due to the handmade nature, low production volume and exceptional quality.


4 comments:

  1. I am not a big fan of rules for rules sake.

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  2. Kat: the purpose here with the PDO thing is pure protectionism, not quality.

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  3. I would have thought they would be more than happy not to be known as Stilton, which you can find on any cheap supermarket shelf. Stichelton sounds much better.

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  4. Alan: I tend to agree. The SCMA has shot itself in the foot with this one.

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