Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cheddar cheese

A lovely story in the Guardian about cheese making in Somerset, a great Cheddar dynasty (plus a picture of the cheese store). What's quite fascinating is the glimpse of a completely integrated agriculture in which nothing is wasted; whey is fed to the piglets (in Italy, it makes ricotta), and the pig manure is recycled to fertilise the pastures which feed the cows.

It's this relationship between the cheese and the local terroir which is missing in so much industrial cheese, made from milk tanked to a factory from far-off farms. The great cheeses of Europe all have a history that's about how farmers adapted to local conditions; local breeds of cow (or sheep, or goat), seasonality, different types of pastures, different methods of storage (notably in the great caves where Roquefort gets its flavour).

That's very similar to the world of wine where a move of just a couple of kilometres can produce a different character in the wine. Or beer, where, for instance, the lambic breweries of Belgium depend on the wild yeasts of the Senne valley, or the famed 'Burton snatch' of sulphur from the waters of Burton-on-Trent that comes through in a Burton beer.

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