What are my special features?
Traditional Caerphilly is a hard white cheese with a slightly crumbly texture and a fat content of around 48%. It is made with unpasteurised milk. Similar to Wensleydale and Lancashire, it is usually produced in wheel shaped truckles weighing around five to ten pounds.
What is my history?
Often known as “The Crumblies” due to its texture, Caerphilly cheese was mainly produced on small family farms in the Caerphilly area in Wales as a way of using up surplus milk, due to its short maturation period. It is not known whether the cheese was originally produced in the town of Caerphilly itself, or if it acquired the name because of its popularity within the mining community of the town where it was sold at the market.
There are two traditions of Caerphilly. The first stems from small Welsh farm production which dates back from the early 1830’s. The cheese was made by hand and was a simple cheese for the farmers. It was the obvious use for surplus milk, vital before the invention of refrigeration and for people with little money to spare. Most of the cheese was consumed at home and any surplus was sold locally. It is rumoured that the cheese was developed to provide a quick way to replenish salt lost by Welsh miners after long underground shifts, as well as being popular for its ability to absorb toxic fumes.
The second tradition of Caerphilly involves Cheddar producers in Somerset, which started in the late 19th century, partly as a result of increased demand from the South. Consumers also wanted a quick maturing cheese to sell young and help their cash flow while the Cheddars were maturing. Caerphilly cheese was often made using Cheddar equipment and the associated larger-scale production methods resulted in a drier cheese. This drier, crumbly, young cheese favoured in later years by large-scale factory production is what is now available in most supermarkets.
Why am I forgotten?
During War rationing, Caerphilly production halted as the cheese was not able to keep well, and when production resumed it only took place in a few Welsh creameries. Although Caerphilly production has increased in South Wales, aged Caerphilly is a rare find.
Don’t lose me…cook me!