Vegetarian Cheeses

Traditional cheese making techniques require the use of rennet in the ‘curdling’ process whereby the curds and whey are separated, the problem with this for vegetarians is that this rennet is sourced from the stomach of young calves. Luckily many cheeses produced in the UK are now made using alternative rennet such as fungal/bacterial sources and genetically modified micro-organisms. However there are some cheeses such as Parmesan, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola that have to be produced to traditional methods including the use of calf rennet, these are therefore unsuitable for vegetarians. While the following list is not by any means exhaustive, it includes some of our most popular cheeses made using vegetarian rennet.

tawvalleyrange_ck6q-r8We’ll start with traditional Cheddar; all of our Taw Valley, Maryland and Ford Farmhouse range are suitable for vegetarians.
Based in North Tawton, Devon the Taw Valley master cheesemakers use high quality milk sourced from local farms and traditional recipes to produce great tasting cheeses. Barbers of Maryland Farm are one of the few farms awarded Protection of Designation of Origin status meaning that their Cheddar is made to exacting standards including using milk sourced from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset or Dorset, using traditional techniques such as ‘cheddaring’ and allowing the cheese to mature for at least nine months. Ford Farm are based in Dorset and have been producing Cheddar for over forty years using methods and recipes dating back over 600 years.

Quickes are producers of traditional cloth bound cheeses and while some of their range uses animal rennet they also have a range suitable for vegetarians including their Elderflower cheese. Based near Exeter in Devon the team make all the cheese by hand using techniques which have been passed through the generations for over 500 years. This elderflower cheese is a fresh and creamy Cheddar with real elderflower running through it. It is delicately scented with rich and buttery flavours.

Devon Blue is made by Ticklemore Cheese near Totnes, Devon without the use of rennet making it suitable for vegetarians. Made using unpasteurised Friesian cows’ milk sourced from local dairies, it is allowed to mature for up to eight months to allow the flavour to fully develop and is moist, slightly crumbly in texture with buttery rich flavours.

Tim_Schofield_Photo_150520-83Cornish Brie is made by Trevarrian Creamery on the North Cornwall coast using locally sourced milk, this rich Cornish milk is what gives the brie its characteristic yellow, buttery colouring. Best of all it is made using vegetarian rennet with a soft and silky texture and mild, creamy flavour. For added luxury try their St Endellion Brie which is made with added double cream and still suitable for vegetarians.

Check out our website for the full range of cheeses suitable for vegetarians and discover something new!

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Meat and cheese anyone?

Meat and cheese go well together, this much we know. Whether it’s on an antipasto platter, in a sandwich or a burger, there are so many delicious flavour combinations to discover. We’ve listed a few of them below.

Lets start with a classic ham and cheese sandwich, the salty, slightly sweet flavours of the ham pairs brilliantly with a number of cheeses. For smoked or honey roasted ham a softer, creamy cheese such as Emmental works well but if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous try it with a Gorgonzola or Cambozola for a rich and sharp contrast. For more salty hams such as our Devon cured or sandwich ham a full bodied Cheddar such as the Wookey Hole Cave Aged is the way to go, its distinctive earthy, nuttiness compliments the savoury ham.

Whatever the occasion an antipasto board is a welcome addition to any table – full of different colours, textures and most importantly flavours, they bring everyone together in a shared love of food. For the cured meats try and mix different textures such as thinly sliced prosciutto and peppery salami. Similarly with the cheeses try and go for one soft or semi-soft cheese such as a Somerset Brie or Sharpham’s Rustic and one hard cheese such as a Wensleydale or Stilton. Play around with flavours and maybe try something you haven’t tried before as well as old favourites.

Everyone has a different opinion on burgers, some prefer simple Cheddar – we think the Maryland Vintage adds a great depth of flavour – others are a little more daring with Gorgonzola and Gruyere making an appearance. Soft cheeses such as brie or camembert can also take a burger to new heights. But if you want to add more heat to your burger why not try it with a spicy cheese such as our Afterburn or Mexicana?

The options for cheese and meat pairings are limitless, try whatever takes your fancy and you might just discover something amazing.

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Healthier Cheeses

Believe it or not there are some cheeses out there that won’t ruin your diet and will also taste great.

As a nation we consume up to 700,00 tonnes of cheese per year and while cheese contains a number of essential nutrients such as calcium and protein, we can’t get away from its high quantity of saturated fat. Below are a few of our favourite reduced fat cheeses which can still be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Dorset Blue Vinny

Dorset_Blue_Vinny02Who knew this was low fat! The story of this cheese is that it started off as an efficient way of using up ‘left over’ milk after the cream had been skimmed off for making butter. This means that it has a naturally very low fat content but is still rich in the buttery, creamy flavours you would expect from a blue cheese. Made on Woodbridge Farm, Dorset using the milk from their own herd of Friesian cows this is a delicious cheese with the added bonus of being low fat.

Taw Valley Reduced Fat Cheddar

It’s all in the name for this one! Taw Valley Creamery started developing this reduced fat cheese in response to changing customer needs. It has become very popular as the strong, punchy flavours of traditional Cheddar still come through without the heavy fat content. It is rich, creamy and full of flavour thanks to the time honoured cheese making methods mixed with modern innovations used by the team.

Feta

We all know that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world and one of its staples is Feta cheese. It is packed full of nutrients including calcium and vitamin B12 and is relatively low in calories and fat. Feta is a creamy, soft cheese with strong, salty flavours – a little goes a long way here.

Sharpham BrieSharphamBrie_(2)

Despite its reputation brie is actually lower in fat than standard Cheddar and while this isn’t technically low fat we think every once in a while isn’t too bad. This is made on the Sharpham Estate near Totnes, South Devon using the milk of their own Jersey cattle. It is a creamy brie with unique, buttery flavours.

There you have it, some guilt free, delicious cheeses to keep you smiling this January!

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Farmhouse vs. Factory Cheese

It goes without saying that there is a huge difference in quality between traditional, hand made artisan cheeses and generic, industrial cheeses.

Cheeses that are made, shaped and nurtured by hand have more care and expertise go into them than the bog standard Cheddar. They are also, in most circumstances, either made using milk from the makers own herd or sourced locally. The result is cheese that varies in taste, texture and overall appearance throughout the year. A Cheddar made on a small farm in Somerset has a very different taste to Cheddar made anywhere else. In fact there are only six dairies worldwide that make West Country Farmhouse Cheddar with Protected Designation of Origin status. This award is an assurance of the quality and authenticity of the cheese; it has to be made using milk from the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Devon or Cornwall, it must be made using traditional techniques such as ‘cheddaring’ or turning the curds by hand and it must be matured for at least nine months.

In contrast many processed cheeses are uniformly made using milk from a large number of different dairies in a very controlled process. A factory will produce many different cheeses and because of this the milk goes through a number of processes such as heat treating to minimise spoilage before pasteurisation and removing much of the fat content. In farmhouse cheeses this fat is essential to the flavour and texture of the cheese; while it isn’t as good for your waistline, it’ll certainly taste a lot better!

Here at Isca Foods we are passionate about supporting small-scale dairies and their fantastic cheeses. It is important that the skills and time-honoured techniques needed to make them are not lost. This is why we are proud to say that almost all of our cheeses can be traced back to the farm in which they were made. Have a look at our cheese pages for more information.

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Orchardlea and Pre-Packs

Back in December 2013 owners of local, prestigious pre-packer Orchardlea Foods decided to retire and offered the business to us. Orchardlea is now the brand we use for all of our pre-packed products including cooked meats, cheese, pate and bacon. The increased range meant that we developed two five star cutting and packing rooms which could handle the number of orders coming through.

HoneyRoastHam_tw5b-mmToday our Orchardlea products include quality, freshly cut and sliced meats such as delicious sweet-cured honey roast ham, traditional pork haslet, hand sliced black pudding and topside roast beef. These are all sliced and vacuum packed on site to keep the same freshness and quality.

Our pre-packed cheese range includes cheeses from both small, independent and nationally renowned dairies. From traditional Cheddar and Stilton to more unusual varieties such as the nettle wrapped Cornish Yarg and the hand moulded Sharpham Rustic with fresh pureed garlic and chives, there is a cheese to suit all tastes. All of our cheeses aredevonblue_ubcw-fm sliced and packed on site to retain their fresh flavours.

This range is perfect for the retail sector as all of our pre-packs come labelled with prices and nutritional information.

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New Flavoured Cheeses!

Ford Farm is a West Country Farmhouse cheesemaker idyllically located in the rolling Dorset Downs. All of their cheeses are hand made by a team of expert cheesemakers using methods and recipes dating back hundreds of years. Milk is sourced from local, free-range dairy herds to produce great quality cheese which is continuously graded throughout the maturation process to ensure the best possible taste.

We have recently extended our Ford Farm range to include a variety of their innovative blended cheeses. These include cheddar blended with lime marmalade, chillies and red and green peppers, wensleydale with dried fig and honey, cheddar with port and cheddar with mushrooms and black truffle.

These will be added to our current range of flavoured cheeses such as cheddar and spring onion, cheddar with marmite and cheddar with chip shop curry sauce. There are many other flavours being added so be sure to check out the flavoured cheese section of our website and find your new favourite!

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All about cheese

We stock a wide range of delicious cheeses and what better time of year to try something new than Christmas. Spruce up your cheeseboard with some of these great choices.

tawvalleyrange_hra7-n2The Taw Valley range includes something for everyone from creamy Mild to full bodied Tasty or Tickler. Based in North Tawton, Devon master cheesemakers use time honoured methods, high quality milk from surrounding farms and traditional recipes to create great tasting, traditional cheddars.

The Sharpham Estate rustic cheese with garlic and chives is made using milk from their own herd of Jersey cattle. The light and creamy character of the cheese is complimented by fresh pureed garlic and chopped chives. All cheeses are made by hand using traditional cheesemaking practices.

Made by Ford Farm in Dorset, this Wensleydale and Cranberry is always a great addition to any cheeseboard, the sweetness of the cranberries and the creaminess of the cheese go together perfectly for a deliciously full flavour.Bowland31_1 (1)

Go all out for Christmas with this Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin cheese, a creamy Lancashire with a tangy, fruity taste and slightly crumbly texture.

There are many other cheeses available with both traditional and unusual flavours. Check out our cheese pages for our full range!

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