THE LAST WEST COUNTRY CHEDDAR CHEESE MAKERS
14 colour photographs
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Author Richard Green has nearly 40 years in the cheese trade, mainly as a cheese grader and also a judge at many local, national and international cheese shows.
Starting out with what was Europe’s largest farmhouse cheddar cheese store in Wells, he gained his experience at grading and selecting cheese, while over the years also experienced all aspects from actually making the cheese to working in the pre-packing rooms.
Working for one of the well known traditional farmhouse cheddar cheese makers, seeing how regulations and to a degree politics had an effect on this and many other family businesses, not to mention the might of the massive national and international cheese companies, is told in this book, and often, not always for the best to the family concerns.
While this book not only gives a history of cheddar cheese making in the West Country, with its origins based around England’s smallest city of Wells in Somerset, it also deals with the highs and lows of a product which is now made and available throughout the world.
Due to many factors, which this book will highlight, from a total of around 1,000 cheese makers there are only around 10 farmhouse cheddar cheese makers left in the West Country.
Against a background of turmoil and change, glimmers of hope are given by those who are left, who continue to diversify in the industry, along with a new era of artisan cheese makers, whom the author has got to know over the years, and in turn is seeing history start to repeat itself.
THE LAST WEST COUNTRY
CHEDDAR CHEESE MAKERS
I remember as a child the importance of the cheese grader’s monthly visit to the farm. At stake was Father’s income, the cheese maker’s pride and the happiness of the whole farming household. The cheese had to be judged the finest quality Farmhouse Cheddar to receive the magenta oval stamp or its sale would be unprofitable and the farm’s reputation diminished. Richard Green followed in the line of such Cheese Graders as Messrs Dicker, Howe, and Plenty separating the very best and the good from the mediocre.
In this history Richard brings to life the characters who made Cheddar the world’s favourite cheese. The production of Cheddar has been so successful that it is now concentrated in a few dairies. Richard relates how this has happened. He retells the stories that he has collected and researched and those from his own experience working in the Farmhouse Cheddar industry.
The beginning of this story is Milk, an elixir for good life from suckling to old age. The traditional cheese makers drew on their experience, their own alchemy, to produce cheese with flavours and textures that remain in the memory. Richard continues his story introducing the new generation of Artisan cheese makers who are relearning the craft of preserving the glories of raw milk in cheese.
As with bread, beer and cured meat there is now a great variety of interesting cheeses, so many that you can taste a different British cheese every day of the year if you have the enthusiasm to search them out. So settle down with a piece of raw milk Cheddar, an apple and a glass of Somerset cider and read this intriguing and continuing story of Somerset Cheddar cheese makers!