Cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years; our moderate climate, year round rain and lush rolling landscape make the country – and more importantly for us the West Country – ideal for dairy farming. As wine is renowned for its ‘terroir’ so cheese develops flavours unique to the grass, soil and climate in/on which the animals graze. In small scale dairies this results in cheeses with different depths of flavour dependent upon these factors which sets them apart from manufactured cheese and production line dairies. In the following blog we explore three West Country dairies and the delicious cheeses that they produce.
The Barber family have been producing their traditional farmhouse cheddar since 1833, making them the world’s oldest surviving cheddar-makers. Daniel Barber began making cheese on Maryland Farm in rural Somerset mainly for his family and farm workers using milk from his own herd of cows. However as demand for the cheese grew more milk was needed and by the 1950’s the family were working with surrounding farms to keep up production.
Today the farm is still very much a family business who have not lost their passion for cheese-making. Time honoured techniques and recipes passed down through the generations combined with modern technology have ensured the longevity of this traditional cheddar. We stock a wide range of Barber’s cheeses including the Vintage Reserve 1833, the Mellow cheddar and the Haystack Tasty as well as their Red Leicester and Double Gloucester cheeses. Click here to view the whole Barber’s range.
Lynher Dairies are producers of the award-winning Cornish Yarg cheese. First made in the 1980s on Bodmin Moor by Alan Grey, who found the 17th century recipe for nettle-wrapped cheese in his attic, Yarg is now made by Catherine Mead at their custom built dairy near Truro. Other cheeses include a Garlic Yarg, Stithians cheese and the Cornish Kern which won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2017. The rich Cornish milk used in the cheese-making process comes from their own herd of Aryshire cows and is also sourced from nearby farms. This coupled with the cheese-makers’ experience and expertise results in some truly delicious cheeses. We currently stock the classic Yarg and the Garlic version.
Robin Congdon was the original pioneer behind Ticklemore Cheese Dairy. In the 1970’s he began reviving the tradition of sheep milking in the UK and, with thirty sheep on a smallholding near Exeter, began producing yogurt and soft cheeses. Soon he and his partner Maurice Ash expanded the business to a larger farm on the banks of the River Dart where the Beenleigh Blue and later Harbourne Blue and Devon Blue cheeses were developed. The 1980’s were an exciting time for producing speciality cheeses and a larger dairy was built to accommodate new varieties including Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic – both of which were given to Sharpham Creamery once production needed to be simplified. We stock their Devon Blue and Beenleigh Blue cheeses.
There are many more dairies and cheeses that we could have mentioned here which proves just how lucky we are to live and work in this beautiful county. The hard work of dairy owners and the expertise of its cheese-makers ensures that the West Country cheese remains a renowned speciality.