Cheddar Cheese made in Cheddar Somerset
Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the UK, surprisingly not many people know that Cheddar Cheese derives its name from the village of Cheddar in Somerset … I do, it is where I grew up. It was nice to return to Cheddar on assignment for the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Only one producer of Cheddar Cheese survives in Cheddar today, the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company and only a handful of the once 400 producers in the county of Somerset remain in business today.
Cheddar Cheese matured in the caves of Cheddar Gorge
The village of Cheddar lies at the foot of the wonderful Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills. Cheddar Gorge is one of England’s most iconic and spectacular landscapes, it is 4.8km long and on its south side the near-vertical dramatic cliff-faces reach 137m high.
Of the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company’s selection of Cheddar’s my favourite is the ‘Cave Matured’ which is matured for up to 12 months in one of the caves in Cheddar Gorge called Gough’s Cave “The cave there has a steady 11 degrees Celsius, the humidity gives the cheese its very own taste.” our guide Martin Pickett told us. In the same cave in 1903 Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton called Cheddar Man was found, he is estimated to be over 9,000 years old.
West Country Farmhouse Cheddar
The earliest reference to Cheddar and its cheese date from 1170 and King Henry II declared “Cheddar cheese to be the best cheese in all the land”. Unfortunately the name Cheddar Cheese was never protected and is now made all around the world, however West Country Farmhouse Cheddar has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) just like Parma Ham from Italy and Champagne from France. The 9 individual West Country farms that are licensed to use the name are:
Lye Cross Farm, Somerset.
Ford Farm, Dorset.
Barber’s Farmhouse, Somerset.
Batch Farm Cheesemakers, Somerset.
Brue Valley Farm, Somerset.
Denhay Farms, Dorset.
Parkham Farms, Devon.
Westcombe Dairy, Somerset.
Artisan Somerset Cheddar
Slow Food is a global, grassroots organisation that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment. In 2004 the Slow Food Presidium was set up for Artisan Somerset Cheddar amoungst the key principles are that the cheese is only made in Somerset using unpasteurised milk from the farm’s own herd. There are 3 producers: