Historically in the United Kingdom women were the cheesemakers. The word “dairy” is derived from the Old English word for “female servant”. Dairymaids were responsible for milking cows and making cheese and butter. Once reviled as “feminine mystery”, undertaken by strong, rosy-cheeked and hardy women, cheesemaking now seems to be a male-dominated practice. The 19th century saw a shift from farm-produced to factory-produced cheese, and thus from women to men. This risks eclipsing the vast cultural and historical significance of women in the cheese industry. It is now time to celebrate some amazing and inspiring female cheesemakers we work with in November’s selection.
One of the really special things about Doddington is that Maggie uses still-warm milk from a single milking of her brother’s cows to make each batch. She believes that this freshness of raw milk is key to the quality of her cheese. Because such small volumes of Doddington are currently being made, it’s rare to find it in our online shop. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we do and perhaps we can encourage Maggie to increase production.
Jeffa has been making this cheese since 1979. Jeffa works with the milk of two local farmers, whom she has used for over 25 years. We love the pillowy soft texture of this batch, it is so succulent with gentle peanut, nougat flavours. The washed rind is plump and pliant with a light dusting of white moulds. Undeniably moreish.
Tunworth is a small but mighty Camembert-style cheese. It should smell pungent, even before you unwrap it. It has a delicate, papery rind and a classic, creamy paste. Flavours are vegetal, reminiscent of truffles and brassica vegetables, sometimes cut through with pleasant bitterness.
Mary is the matriarch of British farmhouse goat’s milk cheesemaking. Visit our website to view a short film from one of our farm visits this summer. The moulds that make up the rind of Tymsboro are propagated naturally in the farm and tend toward duck-egg blue rather than white. They bring a peppery flavour and a robustness that marks Tymsboro out as a true original.
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.