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What is Gloucester Cheese?

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  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2016
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Ancient Sumerians were making a cheese from goat's milk and cow's milk thousands of years ago. While Gloucester cheese isn't thousands of years old, this cheese, which is produced in England, comes from the famed Gloucestershire county, which has been known for centuries for its dairy production. Gloucester is a semi-hard, unpasteurized cheese made from cow's milk that comes in two forms — single and double. Both single and double are covered with rinds and formed in rounds. Double is allowed to age longer than single and also has a higher fat content.

The exact century that Gloucester cheese was developed is open for debate. While the cheese started to gain popularity in the 1600s when a rind was developed that enabled the cheese to have a longer "shelf life," records indicate that Gloucester may have been created as early as the sixth century. Originally, there was only one kind of Gloucester cheese, which was made from the cream of the old Gloucester cow. That cow that is now considered to be rare by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in England. Over time Longhorns, Shorthorns, and Holstein Friesians replaced the old Gloucester cow as milk and cream providers.

Gloucester cheese should be served at room temperature. Double Gloucester cheese can be served with crackers, raisins, or dried fruit. In addition, double Gloucester cheese can be successfully paired with a Sancerre, Riesling, Rioja, or Syrah wines.

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This cheese is also well suited for use when cooking. Slices of Gloucester cheese with a little English mustard placed on bread, then covered with brown ale and baked is a classic English dish. Gloucester cheese can also be used in stews and pasties.

Gloucester cheese rolling has been an annual event since at least 1826 on Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, England, with the exception of 1941 to 1954, when wood was substituted for cheese due to World War II rationing. Again in 2010 the event was canceled for safety reasons. Despite the cancellation, the event was still held unofficially during in that year.

During the event, a seven-pound (about 3.2 kg) wheel of double Gloucester is rolled down a steep, 200 yard (about 183 meter) hill, reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour (about 113 kph). Participants chase the rolling cheese, trying to catch it. Racers can be hurt in the resulting tumbles. Those more seriously injured are taken to a local hospital.

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