Reinventing The Wheel Selection


This selection was put together by Bronwen Percival, our cheese buyer and co-author of new book Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese. Bronwen felt there had not been a book about cheese that provided the right balance between cool science, historical context, and engaging storytelling: so she wrote one. This selection makes a great gift for the cheese lovers in your life; what better treat than to read about cheese whilst eating it?

Featured in this selection are:

  • Hafod, a Cheddar style whose flavours range from earthy and mellow to oniony.
  • Kirkham’s Lancashire, a treasure: the last farmhouse raw-milk Lancashire in the world.
  • Innes Log, a lactic goat’s milk cheese: flavours of bright acidity and grass, textures are dense, and ganache-like.
  • Baron Bigod, a raw cow’s milk cheese, with yoghurty acidity at the core, and aromas of mushroom towards the rind.
  • ‘Reinventing the Wheel, a copy of the book.

The book can also be purchased on its own here.

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‘Reinventing the Wheel’ tells the story of cheese and its place in the modern world. For our colleague Bronwen, this is a personal story—the history of dairying in the last hundred years is also the story of her family—and the magnitude of the changes is vast. In little more than a century, industrial mindsets have altered every aspect of the cheesemaking process, from the bodies of the animals that provide the milk, to the microbial strains that ferment it, to the methods used to make the cheese. Bronwen and her husband Francis wanted to explore what has been lost as raw-milk, single-farm cheeses have given way to the juggernaut of homogeneous factory production.

But while they lament the decline of farmhouse cheese and reject the headlong rush towards monoculture and ever-higher yields, Reinventing the Wheel is an optimistic book. As they look at cheeses from all over the world, including many that we sell at Neal’s Yard Dairy, they find inspiration in how scientists—and the most enterprising cheesemakers—have begun to explore the techniques of their great grandparents. Bit by bit, one experiment at a time, these dynamic communities of researchers and cheesefarmers are reinventing the wheel.

Praise for Reinventing the Wheel:

Reinventing the Wheel is a rich and eye-opening insider’s account of the modern cheese world: the anonymous uniformity underlying the apparent bounty of the cheese counter, the near extinction of truly exceptional cheeses, and the new scientific appreciation of prescientific cheesemaking, with its canny reliance on biodiversity in pastures and cattle and the dairy, which may help bring more distinctive and flavorful cheeses to tomorrow’s table.”—Harold McGee

“A fascinating timely tale of re-learning how to work with microbes and rescue healthy traditional cheese.”—Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and author of The Diet Myth

“A brilliant consideration of microbial ecology, the science that is causing a refresh of our view of everything from human health to the health of cows and farmers in the dairy industry.”—Wine and Spirits Magazine [2017 Book of the Year]

“Not since Harold McGee’s monumental On Food and Cooking (1984) and Sandor Katz’s masterly The Art of Fermentation (2012) have I enjoyed and learned so much as I did from the Percivals’ book.”—Steven Jenkins, The Wall Street Journal

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.

Weight 1200 g