Red Leicester, sometimes called Leicester, is an English cheese, made in a similar manner to Cheddar cheese, although it is crumblier; it is coloured orange by adding annatto extract during manufacture. Its mild flavour goes well with most food and wine or beer, and is good for Welsh rarebit.
Red Leicester is a cow's milk cheese, originally from Leicestershire, England, and is named after the city of Leicester. It has a firm texture, which makes it suitable for grating, and it is a good choice for use in cheese on toast or with a baked potato. The taste complements fruit, pasta, and crackers and is often used in tarts or quiches. At its best, it has a slightly nutty taste.
This cheese used to be called Leicester cheese, after the town in which it was marketed, but is now called Red Leicester to distinguish it from the White Leicester which was made to a national recipe under wartime controls during the 1940s. The rind is reddish-orange with a powdery mould on 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 will mature it in cloth, the old way, to allow better flavour development. Versions of Red Leicester are also made in America.
The cheese was originally made on farms in Leicestershire with milk that was surplus, after all the Stilton desired was made. It was originally coloured with carrot or beet juice.
The true fat content of Red Leicester cheese is between 33 and 34%. Regulations about cheese serve to confuse because they quote minimum fat levels in terms of the "fat in dry matter" or "fdm". Take out the moisture and you are left with fat, protein, minerals, vitamins and salt - the fdm measures the amount of fat in this dry matter, excluding the water. So although the minimum fdm for Red Leicester is, as stated, correct at 48% this equates to a true fat content in the final product of around 33–34%.