Artisan Somerset Cheddar
What are my special features?
Artisan Somerset Cheddar has a richly mouldy brownish-grey rind and hay-yellow curd. The texture is firm yet buttery, and the curd has flavours of caramelized milk, hazelnut, and bitter herbs.
The cheese curd is created using old strains of bacteria (known as ‘pint starters’ which are based on traditional local micro flora) and calf rennet which help produce the complex, round flavours. The curds are cut until they are about the size of a rice grain and are ‘cheddared’ by being formed into blocks which are stacked and turned by hand for an hour. This changes the texture from crumbly lumps to pliable, elastic slabs and gives the finished cheese its unique texture. Before being transferred to the aging room, the slabs are bandaged with lard-soaked muslin. During the aging process, the cheese’s natural crust remains intact and is never shrink-wrapped or treated in any way to aid moisture retention. A single form of Presidium Cheddar weighs 50 to 60 pounds, and is aged for at least 11 months, though it can be aged for up to two years.
What is my history?
The cheese derives its name from the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Cheddar Cheese has a long history and was known for its superior quality. The communal gathering of milk to produce larger, more matured cheese truckles during the 17th Century was important in distinguishing Cheddar Cheese from other varieties. Practises relating to Cheddar may have extended beyond the home region. Further advances in production methods were made during the 19th Century in response to improved agriculture and resulted in a specific method closely associated to the cheese.
Why am I forgotten?
The centralisation of cheese making in the years following World War II had a significant impact on traditional Cheddar production in Britain. Official requirements which requested specific moisture contents to enhance cheese keeping properties resulted in the elimination of moister cheddar types. The number of farms that resumed production after the war greatly reduced.
The introduction of rindless block cheeses and frequent use of pasteurised milk further reduced the unique characteristics of Cheddar made in South West England. The number of producers making Cheddar in its home county of Somerset has greatly reduced.
However, an artisan Cheddar, handmade in Somerset still exists. The ‘West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese’ has been awarded PDO status.
Don’t lose me…cook me!
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