It’s blue skies and sunshine out there today and BBQ season is well underway. We’re getting into the spirit with our cheese showcase this week – smoked cheese.
The precise origins of smoked cheese are unknown however as with some of the best things it is thought to have been discovered by accident. Most food historians agree that an ancient cheesemonger kept their product close to a wood burning fire and noticed that it gave the cheese a distinct smoky flavour and the much loved smoked cheese was born.
Today there are many ways of smoking cheese from traditional wood fires to modern smokers and the futuristic method of ‘liquid smoke’ being incorporated in the cheese-making process. The intensity of the heat and the variety of wooden chips used both have an impact on the overall smokiness imparted into the cheese. Below we’ve listed some of our favourite smoked cheeses from local favourites to much loved classics.
This smoked mature cheddar originates as Quicke’s well flavoured mature Cheddar. Matured for 12-15 months it is then naturally cold smoked over oak chips from trees grown on the Quicke’s estate for up to four hours, during which time the cheese develops a subtle, smoky flavour. This cheese is available in both catering 1.2kg blocks and 150g retail packs.
The Dorset Red from Ford Farm Cheesemakers is a smooth cheese enriched with natural annatto for a distinct deep amber colour. Made to their traditional Cheddar recipe the cheese is then cold smoked over oak chips overnight leaving a mellow, smoky flavour and soft texture. This cheese is available in 1.2kg blocks and 150g retail packs.
This traditional smoked Cheddar from Carron Lodge is cold smoked for up to 24 hours over oak chippings resulting in a delicate smoked flavour and rich golden colour. It is available in 1.kg blocks and 150g retail packs.
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 Wessex Country Gammons.
Established in 1987 at Vine Close Farm in Wimborne, Dorset, Wessex Country Gammons began as a producer of quality cooked hams before expanding their range to include beef, turkey and continental deli meats. Hams are very much still the focus with a range including honey glazed, hickory smoked, golden breadcrumb and natural ham. Extreme care is taken to ensure that all of their meat is sourced from RSPCA assured farms with the highest welfare standards ensuring the best taste for their customers.
We currently stock their whole 3kg cooked gammon ham, whole 3kg honey roasted gammon ham and sliced retail gammon hams available in 250g and 500g packs and the whole range is available to view here.
We have been smoking food for generations; using it to preserve food for long periods of time and for its tenderising and flavour carrying properties. It has been suggested that the recent resurgence of smoking food comes from a primeval attraction to fire and the memories it evokes, the smell of meat roasting on a BBQ is probably the modern equivalent of this as we imagine the delicious, tender meat we are about to eat. Cold smoking is generally used to smoke cured meats and fish as the temperature is usually kept between 20-30 degrees, meaning that the food being smoked is not cooked but merely infused with the smoky flavours. Hot smoking exposes the food to both heat and smoke and this is used to fully cook foods, creating moist meat and full, smoky flavours.
We stock a variety of smoked foods including the traditional cheese, fish, bacon and meats and we’ve listed some of our favourites below.
Our John Ross smoked salmon is cold smoked over oak chips in the same red brick kilns used in the 19th century. The smoking process produces succulent flavours and a tender texture in the salmon which is sustainably farmed in the pure, clear waters of Scotland. This is available in 100g packs ideal for 1-2 people. We source the rest of our smoked fish range from Jacksons Fishmongers of Newton Abbot who prepare and smoke the fish sourced from Brixham fish market in their own kiln. We currently stock their rich and meaty smoked mackerel, smoked mackerel with crushed black peppercorns, lightly smoked trout and the classic Victorian breakfast dish, butterflied smoked kippers.
We currently stock a variety of smoked cheeses all with varying degrees of smokiness and flavour. Based in the lush valley of Newton St Cyres near Exeter the Quicke’s Oak Smoked cloth-bound cheddar is one of our favourites. It is naturally cold smoked over oak chips from their own trees for up to four hours, creating a subtle smokiness that compliments the cheeses’ buttery flavours. Windyridge Cheese are artisan cheese makers based in Wincanton, Somerset. Their Bonfire Smoked cheese is made with smooth, creamy mature cheddar which is infused with rich, smoky flavours and dusted with paprika. The Dorset Red is made by Ford Farm Cheesemakers in Dorset. Their traditional mature cheddar is cold smoked over oak chips overnight which results in its distinctive smoky flavour and rich amber colour.
Our English cured smoked bacon is sourced from Devon Choice of Teignmouth, their bacon is full and rich in strong, smoky flavours which are great in pies, bacon sandwiches or a quiche Lorraine. The majority of our cured salamis are also lightly smoked including Danish, peppered and chorizo – our chorizo is also coated in smoked paprika for extra flavour.
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!