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Cheeses of Wales

Caerphilly cheese

Over the past century examples of traditional Welsh cheeses, which began in small regional farmhouse dairies, have all but vanished.

Caerphilly cheese is one of the few genuinely authentic Welsh foods. Originally, it was made from surplus milk from farms in Wales and the name was closely related to the market beneath the castle where it was once sold.

Caerphilly gained in popularity and recognition when it became successful with the miners of south Wales, during the Industrial Revolution. They claimed its young mild crumbly texture was more easily digested and the salty refreshing finish helped replenish salt lost through sweat during hard labour.

By the early 1900s it was more profitable for Welsh farmers to sell milk to the miners than cheese and the art of Caerphilly cheese making was copied by cheese makers in Somerset, England and then shipped back to Wales.

Over the past three decades there has been resurgence in genuine Welsh cheeses which began with the revival of this simple, close-textured white cheese, Caerphilly, at the Caws Cenarth Farm in Carmarthenshire.

The Trethowan Dairy is rumoured to be maker of the finest Caerphilly cheese. Kim and Morgan Trethowan run the small family farm and attribute the quality of the cheese to the process of turning them every day during maturation. Kim says this evenly distributes the mould, creating a lovely break down of protein just beneath the rind with a “brie like softness”.

The secret to Trethowan Caerphilly begins with good quality, raw cow’s milk straight from the farm. As the temperature is raised to just over 30 degrees, starters and traditional rennet are added to set the curds. These are carefully cut into cubes and the temperature again is raised.

What sets this cheese apart is the gentle, but laborious hand stirring of the curds, taking place over several hours, and gently scraping the curds from the bottom of the vat.

Eventually the vat is drained and the curds are carefully hand pressed before being cut and stacked. Over the next few hours the process is repeated again and again. Salt is then sprinkled liberally over the curds before they’re placed into cloth-lined hoops. The young cheeses are then placed in a traditional, old-fashioned press for 24 hours. The cheeses are also brined in a brine tank for 24 hours in organic sea salt before they are matured.

Celtic Promise Cheese - Made from an old Caerphilly recipe

A new legend of cheese making, John Savage, is one of the most awarded cheese makers. He, and a group of idealistic artisan cheese makers from Holland, established a small dairy called Caws Tiefi Cheese, in 1982.

Their most celebrated cheese is Celtic Promise, which is a raw milk cheese, wash rind cheese. The cheese is made by placing fresh, organic milk into the vat until it reaches a maximum temperature of 37 degrees, the body temperature of the cow, in order to preserve the natural vitamins and enzymes in the milk.

RECIPE

Old recipe for Glamorgan Cheese Sausages - A vegetarian’s delight!

Ingredients:
Caerphilly Cheese
Bread Crumbs
An egg, beaten
Leeks
Parsley
Sage
Small amount of mustard

Method:
Combine all ingredients and stir.
Add the beaten egg
With hands form into small sausages, cover again in breadcrumbs and leave for 20 minutes.
Fry in shallow oil until golden brown and eat.

 
 

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