Made by Graham Kirkham, near Goosnargh, in Lancashire, Kirkham’s Lancashire is a classic British cheese. In the county of Lancashire, the cheeses are enjoyed at a variety of ages, evolving from buttery and creamy in their youth into powerful and savoury mature cheeses which can be aged for up to a year. We buy the Kirkham family’s cheese in two sizes, a large 20 kg wheel that we sell primarily in our shops, and a smaller cheese of approximately 10 kg which we sell online and through our wholesale department, which we also age into a mature version that is sold when it is between nine and twelve months old.
The Kirkham family has been farming and making cheese for three generations. When we began buying the cheese in the mid-1980s, John Kirkham managed the cows and his wife Ruth made the cheese. Today, the mantle has passed to their son Graham, whose partner Kellie and sons Mike and Shaun are also involved in all aspects of the business.
What sets the Kirkham’s Lancashire apart is the quality of the milk and the long, slow make; the first step in the cheesemaking is an overnight pre-ripening of the milk, designed to get the native cheesemaking bacteria working and active. Graham uses only a tiny amount of starter culture and works the curds carefully to drain them at their own gentle pace over the course of many hours. The result is a cheese that tastes intensely of the milk that was used to make it, with an extraordinarily complex and long-lasting flavour.
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.