Producing Cheddar cheese in Somerset

 

Hi, I'm Greg Parsons, I'm managing director of Cricketer farm and I'm a very proud supplier of West Country cheeses to Tesco.

We've got 68 employees at Cricketer Farm; all live locally. One family, in fact, have had three generations, totalling more than 100 years service at Cricketer. It all began when Lord Beaverbrook bought Cricketer Farm, which was a derelict farm and started the cheese production back in the late 1940s.

So we launched Cheeky Cow in Tesco in May of this year, our new branded low fat cheese. We've also launched two other cheddar products with Tesco; Quantock Gold which is made purely with Jersey milk which is very indulgent and almost like a set cream. So we also launched Nether Stowey Reserve which is our farmhouse cheddar made to a specific recipe and it carries a PDO which means it's a product of designated origin, a protected name product, and we make it only with local milk.

All of our farms are in Devon and Somerset so the furthest we travel is less than 50 miles but most of our farms are within a 20-mile radius of the site which is very important to us and we have a close working relationship with our farmers. We've got the best farmers in the world; I think the way in which the animals are taken care of and the milk that they produce is of such high standard that you've got a good start for making cheese.

Our cheese making starts with the milk collected from farms on a daily basis, pasteurised and filled into our cheese vats; 20,000 litres in a vat. We add the cultures, the rennet which is going to ripen the milk and start to form a coagulant with the milk which basically means it's going to form a solid blancmange-like substance.

Once that's set we'll actually cook it for a little bit in the vat and then we'll actually start to cut and stir that curd. The curd will separate from the whey and gradually will become more solid through that process. We'll then drop out some of the whey and we'll drop the curd onto our cheese making tables. The curd will start to knit together and form like a blanket and at the point the cheese maker decides we'll actually cut that into loaves and then the cheese makers will turn and stake those loaves to dry the moisture out. The cheese will then be milled into smaller thumb-size chip pieces and after that salt will be added. Salt is added for flavour and also for preservation and also to work with the fermentation process. So we fill our moulds with about 20 kilos of curd. We then fill our press; the cheese is pressed for about 40 minutes in all, very sensitively. From our press we're then going to pack our cheese in wooden slats. This is a traditional way to store cheese and keeps it in great shape for maturation. We'll mature the cheese for between three and 18 months depending on what it's used for.

It makes me very proud to see our cheese on the shelf in Tesco. In 2012 we won nearly 32 awards for our half fat and for our cheddar cheeses at Cricketer. This year we're very proud to have won the Health and Vitality Honours Award for the product development with our half fat low salt cheese.

I like my cheese in many ways and one thing my dad passed on to me is actually cheese and honey works really well together. So just smearing a nice little bit of honey across the top; perfect.

See all Cheddar recipes

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