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The Gloucester area has been famous for cheese for centuries, there are records that show cheese from this region was exported as early as the 8th century. These early cheeses were probably a mix of milk from "Old Gloucester" cows and ewes" milk - which would add extra bite.
During the middle ages cows supplanted ewes from the dairy, and the latter were reared more for their wool and flesh; and the tradition became established in producing two distinct types of cheese.
Skimmed milk from the evening milking alone would be made into "Single Gloucester" (originally called "single meal", while cheese made from a combination of whole-milk from the evenings milking (naturally ripened overnight) added to milk from the next morning, was known as "two meal" cheese - the name over time changing to "Double Gloucester" - and so called because of it used two full-cream milkings.
The double cheeses were also larger in size adding weight to their respective names.
The issue is further complicated as for the last hundred years, the best "singles" have been made with overnight skimmed milk added to the next mornings whole milk; while "doubles" have used overnight cream or whole-milk added to the next mornings whole-milk!
Traditionally Gloucester cheese was dyed a pale orange (with annatto), but generally nowadays only "double" is treated in this way.
Cotswold cheese is Double Gloucester cheese flavoured with chives and chopped onion.
You can see these cheeses being made on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Smart"s Gloucester Cheeses, Old Ley Court, Chapel Lane, Churcham, GL2 8AR (Tel: 01452-750225).
The Appleby family (of Cheshire cheese fame), also make excellent Double Gloucester. See Cheshire Cheese & for more information see our "Mail Order Suppliers" section.
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