Next to Stilton, Cheddar is one of the UK’s favourite cheeses with a history dating back to the 12th century and King Henry II and Daniel Defoe among its high profile supporters; the former claiming it to be the best in Britain and the latter dedicating a whole chapter to this famous cheese in his book ‘A Tour of the Islands of Great Britain’.
Originating in Somerset and taking its name from the village of Cheddar and Cheddar Gorge where it was once matured within the natural caves, this cheese is as popular today as ever. However today Cheddar is no longer only made in Somerset but all over the world resulting in a cheese that varies considerably in texture, flavour and appearance.
In 1996 Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar was given Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning that it could only be made in the counties of Somerset,Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It must also be made to traditional methods such as ‘cheddaring’ where the whey is drained and the curds are stacked together, this is repeated and when matured the cheese will have a dense, crumbly texture. It must be made using locally sourced milk from the makers own farm and should be matured for at least nine months. These strict rules ensure that traditional farmhouse Cheddar remains just that.
During, and for some time after World War II the production of most cheeses was banned by the government due to shortages and rationing. One cheese, nicknamed ‘Government Cheddar’ was permitted, a standardised, bland and tasteless cheese but made in vast quantities to preserve milk. The effect of this was not realised until rationing was lifted in 1954, 3,400 cheese producers had shut down and it was thought that the art of making cheeses had been lost. Luckily for us this was not the case and artisan cheesemakers started to spring up around the country, creating cheddars that reflected the land, the season and the passion of their makers.
We stock a wide range of Cheddar cheeses including Barbers Farmhouse, Taw Valley and Quicke’s Traditional. Try some today and fall in love with cheddar again.