Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cheese: Derby - Sage and Port Wine

Derby cheese is similar to Cheddar but has a softer body and a little higher moisture content. It matures for about 12 weeks like a mild cheddar. Sage Derby is a mottled green color 
due to the addition of sage leaves (or parsley, spinach or marigold leaves) to the curd before it is pressed, or sometimes by the addition of "green curd" from green corn or spinach juice or green vegetable dye. If the color is not from sage, sage extract has to be added to provide the flavor. 
There is no standardization for this cheese and so it varies widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. When young it is soft and mild and as it matures the flavor develops and the texture gets firmer. It was developed in the 1600s in England and only made for festive occasions, such as harvest and Christmas. It is one of the original additive cheeses and one of the oldest British gourmet cheeses. When we were on our Emerald Princess cruise they served it on the ship.The sage is apparently a subtle extra flavor. Because I didn't know that the green was supposed to represent sage at the time, I did not detect the sage flavor. I thought it was a nice extraordinary looking, but mild tasting cheese.The Emerald Princess also served a similar looking cheese, except it was red instead of green. 
I asked about it and was told that it was port wine Derby. There is much less internet information on the port wine Derby because it is not as popular an item, but obviously the red comes from the wine instead of green from the sage. I was a little disappointed with it because I did not detect a port wine taste with it and I love port wine cheese. 
I will be open to trying these cheeses again, hopefully next time knowing the manufacturer and being more aware of what I am eating. They are wonderful looking and reasonably tasting cheeses - I'm hoping to find some that are also wonderful tasting as well. 

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