Stinking Bishop Cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk curdled with a vegetarian Rennet. Before being put into moulds, the curds are washed with Perry (pear cider) made from Stinking Bishop Pears (thus its name), which grow on the Gloucestershire-Herefordshire border. The cheese is not salted until after it is removed from the mould, in order to allow a bit more bacterial activity.
The cheeses come out of the moulds about 7 1/2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches tall, weighing about 5 pounds (20 cm wide, 4 cm tall, 2 kg.)
Once turned out of its mould, the cheese is aged from 6 to 8 weeks. During this time, the rind is washed with Perry. The cheese ends up with an orangish-yellow, sticky rind.
Even though its name comes from the pears, the cheese really is very smelly; it smells like old socks. The smell is so pronounced that if you buy some at one store and carry the bag into another or onto a bus, people around you will notice. In the spring of 2009, the cheese had the dubious honour of being crowned Britain’s stinkiest cheese, in the Dairy Produce Awards contest held at The Royal Bath and West Show in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Most of the smell, however, is in the rind. The flavour of the actual cheese is much milder, with a tang almost like a mild vinegar. The cheese itself is soft and creamy.
Stinking Bishop Cheese is made in Dymock, Gloucestershire by Charles Martell of Martell and Son company.
Though attributed to old recipes from monasteries, the cheese actually started being made sometime in the 1980s/1990s by a man named Charles Martell. Martell is a pear and a Gloucestershire cow enthusiast; the Stinking Bishop Cheese brought together his two interests. Before making Stinking Bishop, he made Single Gloucester, which he helped obtain its PDO status in 1997.
Food and Drink News: Stinking Bishop Britain’s smelliest cheese. London: Daily Telegraph. 28 May 2009.