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.