Here in Devon we are extremely lucky to have so many fantastic local producers on our doorstep – from artisan cheeses and bespoke blended teas to quality sausages and handmade puddings. In a time when consumers are increasingly concerned with low food miles and the provenance of their food, locality and the ‘shop local’ campaign have never been more apt. With this in mind we are producing a blog series on our local producers and their delicious products, this week focusing on Barbers Farmhouse Cheesemakers.
The Barber family began making their cheeses on Maryland Farm in Somerset in 1833 and today produce their award-winning Cheddar on a much bigger scale whilst retaining their original values and techniques. The Barber’s cheeses are made using milk from their own herd of cows as well as extra milk sourced from surrounding farms. Their expert cheesemakers combine traditional techniques with modern innovations to produce their excellent cheeses from the ‘cheddaring’ process (the curds form slabs which are then stacked by hand) to the use of technology to increase production and maintain consistent quality.
Barber’s cheese is also one of only a handful in the South West to have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, awarded to selected foods which are made in a certain way or in a particular area. In this instance for Cheddar to be called Westcountry Farmhouse it must be made using milk from Somerset, Devon or Dorset, using traditional techniques such as ‘cheddaring’ and matured for at least nine months. The achievement of PDO status marks a high quality product.
We currently stock a number of Barber’s cheeses including the Farmhouse Mature Cheddar, typically matured for up to 12 months it is full of flavour with a mellow richness, and the Farmhouse Red Leicester which is made with traditional starter cultures, West Country milk and a small amount of annatto plant dye which results in its distinctive red/orange colouring. This is a smooth, buttery cheese with a firm texture and subtle, mellow sweetness. We also stock the flagship 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar which is matured for at least 24 months during which time the cheese develops an unrivaled complexity and depth of flavour with a creamy texture and naturally occurring salt crystals to give it a distinctive crunch.
All of the Barber’s cheeses are available in both retail packs of 200-320g and catering sizes from 1kg-5kg and the full range is available to view here.