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There is documentation that suggests Double Gloucester was made as early as the 8th century. Our research leads us to believe that Double Gloucester was the first colored cheese beginning in the 17th century, when cheesemakers used carrot, beet or saffron to add hues. The hand-crafted version we've found for you has been made in the County of Gloucestershire, in the area of the Cotswolds, since the 16th century. The city of Gloucester has always been legendary for its cheese fairs. For hundreds of years all of the region's farmers competed for prizes. Today, many English shires still host agricultural fairs where cheesemakers gather to reconnoiter and, as in centuries past, to compete.
Double Gloucester is traditionally made in large wheels using the cream from the night's milking and the following day's milk. (Its sister cheese, Single Gloucester, uses milk from the same day and is pale yellow.) You may spot the distinctive gray-blue molds on its hard and thick natural rind, and also the marks from the cloth that surrounded it during its maturation. Like all original, traditional cheeses, Double Gloucester is made with unpasteurized milk.
There's a reason for the thick rind on this cheese—actually two reasons. First, these cheeses needed to be able to withstand annual cheese-rolling ceremonies, when Double Gloucester would be rolled down the hills of Gloucestershire to demarcate areas where grazing rights were held. But the second, more demanding reason is that tradition dictated that cheese merchants jump on their Double Gloucester with both feet to test whether the wheel had matured enough so it could be shipped. The cheese passed inspection if the rind didn't crack. But what a tasty mess to clean up when it did crack!
This cheese is firm, but with a subtle, closed texture. Note the full, imposing flavor with notes of nuttiness, citrus and hints of onion. The full-cream used to make Double Gloucester gives it a rich, buttery taste and flaky texture. Not as firm as cheddar, Double Gloucester is still firm and bitable, like hard chocolate. it has a mellow, nutty character with an orange-zest tang. It melts well, making it perfect for cooking. Serve it with fruit and your favorite wine—dry or sweet. A microbrewed English pub ale would complement it, too.
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