Visit to Quicke’s Cheese, 22 August 2017

EUC VISIT TO QUICKE’S CHEESE

 

A group of sixteen visited Quicke’s Farm in August. We were welcomed with coffee and very delicious chocolate brownies. After our wake-up coffee, Stewart – our guide for the morning – explained the workings and history of the farm and their stock – a Kiwi Friesian, Swedish Red, Montbeliarde and Jersey mix. These cattle have been specially bred to give the perfect milk for cheese making.

We were then given a tour of the cheese dairy but not before we had all donned our safety clothing – white overalls, a hairnet and white wellington boots! Health and Safety is taken very seriously and there were two lots of hand washing and wading through a boot wash (all somewhat reminiscent of the foot and mouth days). At last we were able to enter the dairy where we saw milk being transferred into huge vats where rennet is added. The curd and whey are separated and the latter is used to enrich the pastures so nothing is wasted. When the curd has settled it forms a dense golden blanket which is cut into blocks. This is where the real physical hard work begins with each block being continually turned by hand to get out the last of the whey – this process is called “cheddaring”. Cornish sea salt is then added before being milled to give the cheese texture.

The cheese is then put into moulds to a certain weight before being compressed and then each cheese is wrapped in a muslin cloth to allow it to breath as it matures which takes place in the cool stores on wooden racks in the ripening room before being moved into the ‘Cathedral of cheese’ to continue the ripening process. The clothbound truckles are turned every day to maintain an even texture and they can mature for up to two years. It opened my eyes as to the reason we pay more for “proper” cheddar – it is a long process and most done without machinery but the taste is so much better! Before being let loose in the Farm Shop we had a tasting of the various cheddars, Quicke’s produce six varieties from Vintage to Oak Smoked and even Goat’s Milk cheese.

We left clutching our ‘goodies bag’ and also cheese and other items sold in the shop. Even if you don’t do a tour it is well worth visiting the café and Farm shop.

Susie Hewitt

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