Cardo is made by Mary Holbrook in Somserset and, like her three other goat’s milk cheeses, its recipe has its origins in a continental cheesemaking tradition. Quite uniquely, rather than using an animal derived rennet to coagulate her milk, Mary uses a solution infused with dried Cardoon stamens. Cardoon is a variety of thistle native to the southern Iberian Peninsula. Cardo is the only cheese at Neal’s Yard Dairy that is made using a coagulant from a natural, plant-based source.
Mary eschews the use of a steel cutting harp and instead breaks the Cardo curd with her hands. Consistency-concerned cheesemakers would find this concerning as this technique can lead to irregularly sized curd pieces. Mary, however, enjoys working with the inherent irregularities of her method and this practice suits her intuitive approach. We take batches of Cardo from Sleight Farm at a very young age and wash them—often just with water, sometimes with a light saline solution—in our maturing rooms. Washing Cardo removes any mould growth and promotes a healthy, sticky rind and orange or pink pigmentation. Mary lines her Cardo moulds with fabric and so, where impressions are left on the rind, cracks of white or grey moulds may also develop.
It can sometimes be hard to know how much cheese to buy. If you are at all unsure please give us a call for some advice. As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend roughly between 100 and 150 grams per person for after dinner, and a bit more if cheese is the focus of the meal.
If you are buying cheese to serve over a couple of days or as part of a buffet, it is advisable to buy a few larger pieces. This will both look better and keep better than many small bits.
To help visualise weights, a good tip is to consider that a regular supermarket pat of butter weighs between 200 and 250 grams.
Farmhouse cheese is handmade and thus varies with each day’s production and changes as it matures. As such it is necessary to apply a common sense approach to cheese care and respond to the cheese you have in front of you, as opposed to following rigid guidelines. Here are some pointers which will help you to ensure you eat your cheese at its best.
We sell our cheese wrapped in waxed cheese paper, which achieves the best possible balance between maintaining humidity around the cheese and allowing it to breathe. We are happy to provide some extra cheese paper, you can add some to your basket by visiting “accompaniments“. If you wrap your cheese in cling film or foil, it can cause the cheese to sweat which will negatively affect the flavour.
Cut pieces of cheese should be kept in the refrigerator to slow the growth of mould on their cut surfaces. However, it is important to be aware that refrigerated cheese is more likely to dry out, particularly if it is not wrapped. The best option is to keep the cheese wrapped in its waxed paper within a box in the fridge. The container will help to prevent the cheese from drying out and prevent the cheese from absorbing flavours.
It is very important not to serve your cheese when it’s too cold as cold cheese can taste bland and inert. As a general rule of thumb you should bring it out of the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve it. You should keep your cheese wrapped whilst it is coming up to room temperature, to avoid any risk of it drying out. If it is especially warm you should reduce the amount of time the cheese is out of the fridge accordingly.