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FROM TRUCKLE TO TABLE

IT ALL STARTS ON OUR FARM

A SENSUAL ART

Cheese is a living thing just like wine or yeast, and each batch develops slightly differently. As cheese-making is a ‘sensual art’, we’re not keen on using machines, and the few we’ve got are highly customised to suit us. We’re all about handcrafting.

HELLO MILK

Fresh, early, local and daily. That’s how our cow’s milk is delivered. Our sheep and buffalo milk is delivered once a week, fresh from the UK’s best producers. Once delivered, we pasteurise it for purity.

A PINCH OF SALT

Salt helps the flavours develop. No salt, no cheese. Some cheesemakers add salt to curds when they’re still in the vat, but we add it once the truckles have formed. We measure it out and gently rub it onto each cheese.

RIPENING TIME

We move our blue cheeses into our ripening stores to develop their blue natures. All good things come to those who wait.

SPIKING

We poke 200 tiny holes into each blue-veined cheese so that oxygen can activate the penicillium roqueforte. That’s where the lovely blue veins come from. Caroline calls this stage the ‘cheese torture chamber’.

FOILED!

We foil each cheese by hand. That’s an art form in itself.

A BIT OF CULTURE

‘Culturing’ means adding our special ingredients while keeping the milk at a just-so temperature so it can turn into cheese. Starter culture, or good bacteria, helps define the flavours and textures. We add our penicillium roquefort at this stage too.

COAGULATION

An unusual word for such a lovely part of the process, this is where we add rennet. It’s a milk-clotting enzyme that helps set the milk to a nice crème-caramel consistency.

TURNING

We turn each cheese with our own fair hands – three times in the first 24 hours, then every day and then every week so the moisture’s evenly distributed.

CUTTING & DRAINING

Next, we very gently hand-cut the curds, releasing the whey with each cut of the knife. Once the curds begin to firm-up, we drain off the excess whey. You need to be steady of hand for this part, and fleet of foot for the next…

MATURED & GRADING

We leave the truckles to ripen for a number of weeks. At the coming-of-age stage, we grade them. If they’re suitably mature and tasty, off they go to market.

MOULDING UP

The freshly cut curds are delicate and time’s of the essence. Once cut, we swiftly guide them into the moulds. This is where all the wonderful flavours and textures begin to form.

SHOW TIME!

Before they leave the farm, we carefully cut each cheese to the right size and weight, then hand-wrap and label them, checking for quality as we go. Don’t they look grand?

OUR WAY

Us Then

1958

We’ve been farmers for five generations and cheese-makers for two. That’s our Granddad Bell (Nigel’s Father). He liked Judy’s idea of making cheese from sheep’s milk, and backed her all the way.

1986

Judy qualified as a pharmacist in 1968, married Nigel in 1971, and in 1984 joined an osteopath’s. As more people were being diagnosed with cow’s milk allergies, she wondered about sheep’s milk as an alternative.

1987

Judy got a fair bit of stick for her idea. In the 1980’s, you milked cows, not sheep. but she pressed on, built a new milking parlour and taught herself to milk sheep. She’d never even milked a cow. When it was tested, technicians were stunned by the milk’d quality and cleanliness.

1989

Nigel’s hard work delivering the cheese paid off. Even though many complained it was expensive, word spread, especially from those who said it was clearing up their bovine allergy symptoms. After launching at the Great Yorkshire Show, we took GOLD for Olde York in the Speciality Cheese class at Nantwich International.

1996

A big year. After experimenting with cow’s milk, we came up with Yorkshire Blue, which was selected for Tesco’s Finest range. This was also the year when the Greeks wanted to stop us using the name ‘Feta’ for our Yorkshire Feta. This battle of words lasted a decade. Ten years on, we renamed it Yorkshire Fettle. Which is actually better.

1999

Prince Charles became a fan at the Great Yorkshire Show (sadly pre-Facebook). Over the next couple of years, we became one of Rick Stein’s Food Heroes, and our Olde York featured on the menu for Concorde. High times indeed.

2002

Sheep, cows, now buffalo. After some experimenting, we launched our Buffalo Blue. In the meantime, we carried on expanding, and in 2009, received our Investors in People award.

2012-13

In 2012, Caroline joined her sister, MD Katie, to help run things. We launched our fantastic new logo and brand, our new Harrogate Blue, and Alex James approached us to makeover his Blue Monday cheese.

Us Now

IF SOMETHING’S WORTH DOING IT’S WORTH DOING RIGHT

There’s about 20 of us altogether led by Judy’s daughters, Katie and Caroline. As some food producers expand, they mechanise their processes, but we still handcraft our artisan cheeses in small batches on our family farm.

We’re not luddites or trying to be quaint, far from it. Doing it this way just makes a better cheese.

WE’RE ABOUT PEOPLE AS MUCH AS CHEESE

‘Local’ may be trendy today but it’s our way of life. Our local suppliers are friends we’ve known since the beginning. We value our stockists too because once the cheeses leave the farm, the quality is quite literally in their hands.

OUR SECRET

As our family business grows, we’re as principled, perfectionist and pioneering as ever. There’s no exciting secret though. We quite simply have our own ideas and do things our own way.

AWARDS

WORLDWIDE AWARD WINNING CHEESES

OVER 250 SO FAR.
THAT’S A FAIR BIT OF POLISH.

Winning our first award in 1989 was a real milestone for us because it recognised Judy’s genius, and gave her the confidence to keep going. We treasure every award we’re given because each one is a mark of our hard work and sky-high standards.

Some Recent Awards

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