Tucked in to the picturesque Yorkshire landscape, between the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, some serious cheese making is going on. On the same family farm where it all started over three decades ago, our small team is busy whirring away from dawn until dusk fuelled by the passion to create exceptional cheeses that taste delicious. From cow's milk to sheep and buffalo milk, we source only the finest ingredients to create our range of award-winning cheeses. So grab a cuppa, and join us as we step into the world of artisan cheese making…
THE MILK ARRIVES: FRESH FROM THE SOURCE
Each morning on the farm, we welcome the arrival of fresh cow’s milk from six local dairy farms. And, once a week, our friends at Sheep Milk UK provide us with delicious, fresh sheep's milk. We also have the privilege of receiving small batches of Buffalo Milk from Bob Palmer and his exceptional single herd of Italian Water Buffalo.
PASTEURISATION: SAFETY FIRST
To ensure the utmost safety and consistency in our cheese, we employ the process of pasteurisation. This heat treatment eliminates any potentially harmful bacteria before the cheesemaking process begins.
CULTURING: CREATING MAGIC
We take immense pride in infusing our milk with special ingredients and carefully controlling the temperature. It is during this delicate stage that the miraculous transformation from milk to cheese begins. Our carefully selected starter culture, brimming with beneficial bacteria, sets the stage for the diverse array of flavours and textures to come. For our blue cheeses, we then add penicillium Roquefort - the blue culture that lies dormant until it's time to produce those striking blue veins and blooming rind.
COAGULATION: COAXING POTENTIAL
With the addition of a remarkable enzyme called rennet, we coax the milk into a luxurious consistency reminiscent of a perfectly set yoghurt. We take pride in using vegetarian-friendly rennet, aligning our values with the exceptional taste we strive to achieve.
CUTTING: A GENTLE, CRUCIAL STEP
Timing is everything when it comes to cutting the curds just right. Once the milk and ingredients have reached the ideal texture, akin to set yoghurt, we gently hand-cut the curds in the vat. This pivotal process marks the beginning of the separation between curds and whey.
DRAINING: BIDDING FAREWELL TO WHEY
We need to time this bit perfectly. When it's time to say farewell to the whey, we embark on the vital process of draining which is letting most of the whey drain out of the vats and into our whey drain. The excess whey is ultimately taken away by a local farmer who uses it to make electricity via his anaerobic digester. Once the draining off is started, we have to move swiftly to the next step, ensuring the integrity of the curd as they begin their journey into the moulds.
MOULDING UP: SHAPING EXCELLENCE
As we guide the delicate fresh curds into the moulds, we set the stage for the remarkable biological processes that unfold, resulting in the splendid flavours and textures that define our cheeses. This lays the foundation for our distinct, complex and award-winning taste.
THE FIRST TURN: TIME FOR ‘BRIAN’ TO STEP UP
The first turn is a pivotal moment in the cheese-making process. Initially resembling giant cottage cheese curds, they gradually settle under their own weight, transforming into the familiar appearance of exquisite cheese. As excess moisture drains away, we eagerly anticipate the ideal time for the first turn. Gone are the days of manual hoop-turning; instead, we rely on our ingenious turning system, who we have affectionately named ‘Brian’.
SALTING: FLAVOUR UNLEASHED
Salt, the unsung hero of cheese making, plays a vital role in flavour development. While some cheesemakers add salt to the curds before moulding, for our style, we rub it gently onto the outside of our formed truckles. Our meticulous team ensures that each cheese receives the perfect amount, delicately rolling and rubbing it to achieve flavour perfection.
RIPENING: CREATING CHARACTER
Our blue cheeses are now stowed away in our ripening stores, where their distinctive natural rinds begin to form. This carefully controlled environment, with its elevated humidity and gentle warmth, nurtures the development of their full potential.
SPIKING: FORGING THE BLUE VEINS
Our blue-veined cheeses enjoy a unique treatment - they get spiked! This process introduces air into the cheese, activating the penicillium Roquefort and bringing forth those mesmerising blue veins. It's akin to breathing life into each cheese, infusing each one with a distinct character.
FOILING: A SHIELD OF PERFECTION
Why do we wrap our blue cheese in foil? Well, it serves multiple purposes. The foil expertly moulds to the cheese, creating a breathable seal. It facilitates even ripening by efficiently conducting the heat generated during the cheese's development. It's also eco-friendly, as it can be recycled.
TURNING: STRIVING FOR BALANCE
With a touch of moisture still lingering within, regularly turning each cheese is vital. By carefully rotating them, we achieve optimal distribution of moisture, allowing the cheese to develop harmoniously. Our team handles this responsibility diligently, initially turning the cheeses daily and then transitioning to weekly turns. It's only through this hands-on approach that we can actively guide the natural process that is already underway - to produce the very best cheese possible.
MATURING: ALL GOOD THINGS…
Our truckles enter the maturing phase, where they patiently await their moment of full ripeness. Weeks pass as we diligently turn them, ensuring moisture dispersal throughout. We entrust the process to the hands of time, whilst allowing our expertise and careful attention to detail guide us. It's a testament to the adage that good things come to those who wait.
GRADING: REACHING OPTIMAL FLAVOUR
Determining the perfect moment for each cheese to be deemed mature requires our skilled grading process. Just like fine wine, each batch develops uniquely, boasting its own nuances. As connoisseurs of cheese, it is our duty to make the call at the precise moment, guaranteeing a truly exceptional cheese.
CUTTING & WRAPPING: CRAFTING INDULGENCE
Once our cheeses pass the rigorous quality checks, we expertly cut and pack fresh with precision and care. Our devoted team wraps and labels each piece by hand. It's a labour of love but totally worth it. Cheese perfection doesn’t come easy!
If you’d like to know more about our processes and ingredients, please drop me a line anytime here: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be delighted to help!