BOOK SOMERSET HOTELS


Cheddar Cheese, Somerset

More British food legends

Is there any other cheese so traduced as the cheddar? The path of the British around the world can be traced by identifying places where ‘cheddar’ is made, provided there are suitable grazing conditions to provide the milk: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and even the United States all produce large quantities, and to add insult to injury most of them sell it back to us.
There is of course worse: it can only be a matter of time before our supermarkets stock cheddar with mango, raisins and chocolate, as they race to supply cheese to people who don’t like the taste of cheese. The same people doubtless enjoy Alco-pops.
Real cheddar originated long ago – some claim the Romans brought the method – in the South West of England, notably Somerset , the cheeses made around Cheddar Gorge being so noted for their quality that the name was adopted for product made elsewhere in the region. One explanation for the consistent quality is that cheddar was made cooperatively for centuries, milk pooled and processed by various farmers in a ‘club’, the different sources evening out the quality of the milk, the collective financial resources ensuring equipment was reasonable, and the large cheeses made being suitable for lengthy maturing to bring out the best flavours.
Much of what now passes as cheddar is of indifferent quality, but the real thing – look out for West Country Farmhouse Cheddar – is firm, slightly yellow, with a melting quality in the mouth and a good degree of sharpness. The word ‘cheddar’ can be used by anybody around the world, but West Country Farmhouse Cheddar is restricted to product from Somerset, Dorset , Devon and Cornwall according to EU Protected Designation of Origin Status.
Taste is of course very subjective, but those who can should try Montgomery’s Cheddar, made from unpasteurised milk (which means nursing mothers, mothers-to-be and others with health issues need be aware of the fact). Matured for more than 12 months to bring it into the extra-mature category it is complex, with a good bite to it, wrapped in cloth in the proper fashion. To eat Montgomery’s cheddar is to be transported back to Dr Johnson ’s table – already in the 18th century the best cheddar was a gourmet’s (and gourmand’s) choice in this country.
The old-fashioned process for cheddar making required coating it in lard to retain moisture; though some now use wax, Dutch-style, and some cheddar is supplied without rind; in addition real rennet is suet, making some products doubly unacceptable for vegetarians. Help is at hand though, as some makers have espoused vegetarian rennet.
Matching drinks with cheddar is open to debate. Bitter has its advocates; robust red wine will not insult it; but a properly made dry cider is hard to beat. And please, if eating real cheddar with biscuits, no butter. Would you put soda water in champagne?

Brit Quote:
There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true. - Winston Churchill
More Quotes

On this day:
Battle of Lostwithiel - 1644, Battle of Dunkeld - 1689
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages

England:
Bath
Bedfordshire
Berkshire
Bristol
Buckinghamshire
Cambridgeshire
Cheshire
Cleveland/Teesside
Cornwall
County Durham
Cumbria
Derbyshire
Devon
Dorset
Essex
Gloucestershire
Greater Manchester
Hampshire
Herefordshire
Hertfordshire
Kent
Lancashire
Leicestershire
Lincolnshire
London
Merseyside
Norfolk
Northamptonshire
Northumberland
Nottinghamshire
Oxfordshire
Rutland
Shropshire
Somerset
Staffordshire
Suffolk
Surrey
Sussex
Tyne & Wear
Warwickshire
West Midlands
Wiltshire
Worcestershire
East Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
Scotland:
Angus & Dundee
Argyll
Ayrshire & Arran
Borders
Dumfries & Galloway
Edinburgh & the Lothians
Fife
Glasgow
Grampian
Highlands
Isle of Islay
Isle of Mull
Isle of Skye
Lanarkshire
Perthshire
Stirlingshire
Western Isles
Wales:
Anglesey
Mid Wales
North Wales
South Wales
West Wales
Ireland
Northern Ireland:
Belfast
County Antrim
County Armagh
County Down
County Fermanagh
County Londonderry
County Tyrone
Offshore:
Guernsey
Jersey
Isle of Man
Isle of Wight
Isles of Scilly
Orkneys
Shetland Isles