Cheese News: What’s happening in the world of cheese this summer?

02 June 2024, 12:00 PM
  • Our regular round-up of all the latest news from the world of cheese and dairy
Cheese News: What’s happening in the world of cheese this summer?

Belton Farm adds vintage cheese to Fox family

Belton Farm, maker of one of the UK’s best-loved Red Leicester cheeses (Red Fox), has added a brand new product to the Fox family. Silver Fox is billed by the farm as a superior vintage Cheddar that “promises a sensory journey like no other”. Handcrafted, and slowly matured for 18 months, the cheese has a robust character and intensity, with sweet and savoury notes complemented by the crunch of salt crystals and a creamy finish.

“Our master cheesemakers take pride in utilising locally sourced milk from free-range, grass-fed cows to create the modern British Silver Fox Cheddar,” says Justin Beckett, managing director of Belton Farm. “Each cheese undergoes rigorous grading and inspection before being elegantly packaged, ensuring that every slice delivers an unforgettable taste experience.”

Silver Fox made its debut at the British Cheese Awards, where it clinched a gold, and following its domestic launch has garnered significant interest from international markets, with listings secured from the US, to South Africa.

Range expansion for Golden Hooves

Golden Hooves has announced the launch of two new cheeses, with Red Leicester and Smoked Cheddar now available for retail in 200g pre-packs or 2.5kg blocks. The additions follow the successful release of Golden Hooves Mature Cheddar and Vintage Cheddar in 2023.

Part of the British farmer-owned dairy co-operative, First Milk, Golden Hooves’ cheeses are made with 100% regeneratively farmed milk, with the Smoked Cheddar smoked traditionally over oak sawdust for eight to 12 hours.

Director, Leona McDonald, says, “We’ve been blown away by the reception we’ve had for our Cheddars over the past 12 months, so are excited to be unveiling two new deliciously regenerative cheeses. Made using fully traceable regeneratively farmed milk, our Red Leicester and Smoked Cheddar are two British classics that dare people to think differently about where their food comes from and the impact it’s having on the environment. Can cheese save planet Earth? Well, we know we have some super cheese at Golden Hooves and dairy needs to play its part!”

Scottish maker launches Alpine-style cheese

Strathearn Cheese Co brings a new product to market this month, six years after the release of its last addition, Wee Comrie.

Known for soft, creamy, washed rind or young, delicate cow’s milk cheeses such as Lady Mary and Strathearn, typically aged for a maximum of four weeks, Braggon (aged for three to four months) is a depart into a whole new world of cheese for the Scottish maker.

Co-founder Pierre Leger says they’ve been working on Braggon since last September. “Because of the type of cheese we make, November and December are extremely busy for us,” he explains. “We can almost never make enough so we thought, ‘why don’t we make a cheese we can mature longer and make earlier in the year when we’re not so under pressure?’.”

Pierre says they were looking for something that would mature in a few months, in an almost Gouda style. “Something I could press overnight. It’s a semi-hard cheese with a natural rind. We make the cheese, turn it out, salt it, and mature it, turning it regularly. That’s it.”

He describes the flavour as akin to a young Vacherin or Tete de Moine. “It’s sweet and savoury. On the cheese tasting wheel you might say the sweetness is like cooked cream and condensed milk. That’s what you get to start with. And the savoury is a little meaty, almost like Parma ham.”

The team are very happy with the result, and have been selling out at farmers’ markets and via local delis. “It’s been flying out the door,” Pierre says. “So we’ve had to increase production and we’ve decided to make it regularly. From June we will have a regular stock and be able to supply further afield.”

Braggon is available in 1.3kg rounds for retail.

New group for cheesemakers launches

A cheesemonger passionate about preserving the art and heritage of British farmhouse cheeses has launched a new networking and skills sharing group.

Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy, says he feels it’s a pressing issue for cheesemakers to come together to share knowledge and experience, and learn from one another. It’s the only way, he believes, ancient recipes for products such as Wensleydale, Lancashire and Cheshire cheese can survive.

The inaugural sessions of the Northern Dairy Cheese School (open to everyone) take place from 16th to 18th September, 2024, with a focus on Wensleydale, exploring how it’s crafted, and how small changes and nuances can affect the outcome of the finished product.

There are a couple of drivers behind the project, which will foster events each autumn and spring. “First, in France, Switzerland and Italy there’s a lot of technical support for cheesemakers,” says Andy. “In Britain we just don’t have that anymore. We’re looking at how we can build that knowledge up around farmhouse and artisan cheeses, and the best way is to start discussions, get interested cheesemakers together, and to experiment.

A second reason behind the school is the recent loss of Cotherstone from the cheese landscape. “It was a traditional cheese from the Dales, and when we lost them from the industry, we lost all that knowledge and expertise,” Andy continues. “We’ve spent a lot of effort and time trying to put farmhouse Wensleydale on the map and we need to continue that so in 40, 60 or 100 years’ time there’s something there for people to work from. We thought it would be a great idea to use Wensleydale as a starting point.

“Anyone interested in cheese can come along. The objective is to learn more, make bonds and create a really strong industry. Hopefully it will evolve, and we’ll take it to other areas and parts of the country. It’s really exciting.”

Contact Andy at The Courtyard Dairy for more details or to book a spot.

Look out for autumn release from Wye Creamery

A new cheesemaking business says its first release should be available later this year. Bryn Edwards of Wye Creamery is in the process of testing batches at his parents’ dairy farm in Hereford, using milk from their mixed breed Jersey and Friesian, pasture-fed cows. “It’s really nice milk,” he says. “Because they feed on pasture it’s got an amazing flavour. We’re trying to utilise the grass and avoid feeding concentrates, just leveraging the grasslands around us.”

It’s the first time in the family’s 30 years at the farm that milk has been used to diversify, and Bryn has spent a great deal of time setting up the facilities, buying cheese vats, and experimenting with his recipes, with a view to have products to sell from November onwards.

“It’s going to be a thermophilic cheese, based off a L’Etivaz from Switzerland. That’s made using summer milk from Alpine pastures to really encapsulate the flavour from the grassland. The richness of summer milk makes it quite nutty and smooth. That’s the kind of cheese we’re aiming for here.”

Once the final product is ready and a name decided, Bryn says the dairy will up its social media presence and begin liaising with retailers and wholesalers. Watch this space.

Academy of Cheese welcomes its first Fellow

The Academy of Cheese has announced Hero Hirsh as its first Fellow of the Academy – an accolade that has been eagerly anticipated in the cheese industry, and one that represents the penultimate step in the journey to becoming a Master of Cheese.

Hero has enjoyed an impressive career to date, spending 15 years at Paxton & Whitfield, and earlier this year accepting the role of general manager at Pick and Cheese, part of The Cheese Bar group of restaurants. She has been instrumental in her support for cheese education since the Academy was first set up, having been an expert contributor and reviewer for each of the courses. 

“I’m absolutely delighted to have achieved Level Three Certification,” Hero says. “Having worked as a contributor for one of the modules, I know first-hand just how much time and effort has gone in to creating such a comprehensive resource for those looking to advance their knowledge. Even after 15 years working in cheese, every module pushed my knowledge further and highlighted just how much more there is to know about cheese. I’m truly excited to see what I can learn from this programme next as the Academy pushes towards the Master of Cheese Certification”. 

Commenting on the announcement, Academy of Cheese director, Ros Windsor, adds, “Congratulations to Hero for becoming our first Fellow, we hope many more will be following her in the weeks and years to come. Our vision has always been to support cheesemakers and cheesemongers with the aim of securing a thriving industry to operate in, with a captive audience of engaged consumers. We are delighted and so proud to have bought together the expertise of those working in our industry to create this tiered educational programme for generations to come.”

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