Hafod is made by Rob Howard and his team at the farm of Patrick and Becky Holden near Ceredigion in Wales. It is a cheese that has evolved considerably since we started selling it back in 2008. During that time, Hafod has adopted cloth binding in place of its original plastic-coated rind. The direct-vat freeze-dried starter cultures have been replaced by yoghurt-like bulk starters. The initial stirring is now done completely by hand rather than by motorised paddles. The high temperature of the original make has given way to a much gentler and slower process. The original Hafod cheeses weighed around 10 kg; recently an 18 kg format has been added as well.
The Ayrshire cows that produce the milk for Hafod are uniquely suited for cheesemaking. Despite their lower production levels than the more common Holstein and Friesian breeds that dominate modern dairies, their milk is richer in solids (the fats and proteins that form the structure of the cheese). They have a dynamic herdsman, Nicholas Millard, who prior to working with them completed a dissertation on the impact of cow nutrition on the sensory properties of cheese. He is actively experimenting in the milking parlour with novel practices that he encountered in the academic literature and during his visits to cheesemakers in Europe. These small differences all add up to significant differences in the finished cheese. Hafod is sure to continue to evolve in the years to come, but the ultimate aim remains unchanged: to produce a cheese with a supple, golden paste, which expresses the characteristic flavours of the farm’s milk.
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.