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.
This Cornish Blue cheese is made by the Cornish Cheese Co. on Stansfield’s Farm on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Established in 2001 founders Philip and Carol Stansfield were facing falling milk prices and in a search of a new revenue came up with the initiative of moving to cheesemaking. The only problem was that neither of them knew how to make cheese; Phillip promptly enrolled on a cheesemaking course at Cheshire College of Agriculture and the reality of Cornish Blue was born.
Made using the milk from their own herd on the family farm, the milk is immediately taken to cheese production – only travelling a few yards to do so. Once the cheese is produced it moves to the maturing room where unlike traditional English blues, it only stays for between 12-14 weeks. This makes it a delightfully creamy and gently sweet cheese with none of the saltiness commonly found in blues. It has a dense, moist texture and its mellow flavour makes it very versatile in cooking or as part of a cheeseboard.
Cornish Blue became internationally renowned after it was named Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2010 and since then won a string of awards including Best Blue and Best English Cheese.
The Quicke’s, based on Home Farm, Newton St Cyres near Exeter are producers of award winning traditional cheeses. Using time-honored techniques and recipes that date back generations each cheese is individually crafted by expert cheesemakers who strive to create perfect cheeses every time. The maturation process varies with each cheese, some are even matured for up to two years to give them the signature depth of flavour that is so recognisable.
We currently stock a range of the Quicke’s cheeses including the traditional Mature which is their benchmark cheese. Clothbound and typically matured for up to 15 months it has intense, rich and complex flavours ranging from buttery caramel to sharp, grassy notes which develop on the palate. A truly outstanding cheese it is no surprise that it has won a number of awards including Taste of the West, World Cheese Awards and Artisan Cheese Awards.
Quicke’s Goats Cheese is another fantastic product. Made using locally sourced high quality goats milk it is matured for less time than some of their other cheeses at only six months, however it is full of vibrant, buttery, nutty ‘goat’ flavours and is wonderfully smooth textured.
Once their traditional Cheddar has matured some are selected to become Quicke’s Oak Smoked. Cut into smaller 1.5kg sizes to allow the smoky flavour to infuse throughout the entire cheese it is then cold smoked over oak chips from their own trees for up to four hours. The cheese develops a subtle, smoky and buttery flavour and attractive deep orange colouring.
We currently stock these cheeses in both bulk and pre-packed sizes suitable for catering and the retail market. Call today to order yours!