Formerly known as Leicester, or Leicestershire cheese, this is a hard cows’ milk cheese made in much the same way as Cheddar, but with a moister, crumblier texture and a milder flavour. It is coloured with a vegetable dye called annatto, which gives the cheese its distinctive deep-orange hue. This practice, which is not unique to Red Leicester, originated in the days when a deep colour was held to denote a cheese made from rich, creamy milk. Red Leicester matures faster than Cheddar, and may be sold as young as two months old, although the handful of traditional Red Leicester producers who still remain age their cheeses for somewhat longer.
Red Leicester is available year-round.
Traditionally made Red Leicesters from Sparkenhoe, Long Clawson and Quenby Hall dairies will have a drier texture and a mellower flavour. They are ideal for cheeseboards. Mass-produced cheese will be moister and milder, and better for slicing or melting.
Article by Felicity Cloake