Red Leicester

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Red Leicester
Red Leicester.jpg
Other namesLeicester
Country of originEngland
Source of milkCattle
Fat content33% total (48% as FDM)
Aging time6 to 12 months

Red Leicester (also known simply as Leicester or Leicestershire cheese)[1] is an English cheese, made in a similar manner to Cheddar cheese, although it is crumbly, sold at 6 to 12 months of age. The rind is reddish-orange with a powdery mould on it. Since the 18th century it has been coloured orange by adding annatto extract during manufacture.[2] It is a cow's milk cheese, originally from Leicestershire, England, and is named after the city of Leicester. Traditionally made wheels are fairly firm and dry, with a friable texture and a slightly sweet mellow flavour that becomes stronger as the cheese matures. Block-made cheeses are moister, and have a slightly sweet aftertaste and a creamy texture.[3] It has a slightly nutty taste. Versions sold in supermarkets are typically coloured with annatto, although it is possible to obtain Red Leicester without it.

Although Red Leicester can be young or "old", aged anywhere from four to nine months, the young Leicesters at the start of that range will be very mild: they often require at least six months to develop a tang. Farmhouse versions are also available. Farmhouse makers mature it in cloth, the old way, to allow better flavour development whereas modern cheese makers use Vac-Pac to age Red Leicester.


The cheese was originally made on farms in Leicestershire with milk that was surplus once all the Stilton desired was made. It was originally coloured with carrot or beetroot juice.

It used to be called Leicestershire Cheese, but came to be called Red Leicester to distinguish it from the "White Leicester" made to a national wartime recipe considered inferior during the 1940s; colouring agents were banned.[4][3]

The fat content of Red Leicester cheese when fresh is generally 33 to 34%. Regulations regarding cheese require minimum fat levels to be stated in terms of the "fat in dry matter" or FDM, as moisture levels decrease as cheese ages. Take out the moisture, and fat, protein, minerals, vitamins and salt, remain; the FDM measures the amount of fat in these solids, exclusive of water. The minimum FDM generally listed for Red Leicester is 48%.

("Red" Leicester, might also allude to the Latinate name of the host city; Ratae/(Rete) C., cf. Sp 'Red': Net/work)


  1. ^ "Red Leicester". BBC Online. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  2. ^ "History of Red Leicester". British Cheese Board. Archived from the original on March 18, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Red Leicester". British Cheese Board. Archived from the original on November 14, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ Iconography Ltd. "British Cheese Board – Red Leicester".

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