Stand by for a bit of disappointment: the word yarg, which has such a lovely raw Celtic ring to it, is not a survival of the Cornish language, but simply the name of the originators of the cheese - Gray - spelled backwards.
But what's in a name? The cheese itself is an excellent one, a hero of British food whose beginnings were part of the craft cheese revival post- WWII . Alan and Jennie Gray of Liskeard at the south east corner of Bodmin Moor developed the recipe and technique in the 1970s, though the characteristic nettle wrapping is an old technique.
Yarg uses milk from Holstein and Friesian cows, this milk is pasteurised, and vegetarian rennet used in the process. The texture softens with age, and the flavour develops, the nettles encouraging the growth of friendly moulds that play a part in this maturing. Some have described the more mature cheese as having a hint of wild mushroom, in fairly stark contrast to the younger cheese which has citrus notes to it, albeit buried deep behind the creamy flavours that dominate. The cheese is pressed, but its texture is on the softer side even when young.
The Gray family sold the recipe to another Cornish farming couple the Horrells, who were later joined in the enterprise by the Meads, who continue to make the cheese at Pengreep Farm, the Horrells having retired.
An interesting development of the Yarg recipe is the use of ramsons, or wild garlic, as wrapping for the cheese, with a subtle garlic tang imparted to the finished product.
Yarg now enjoys Protected Designation of Origin status, so happily will not face competition from Canadian or Australian or Panamanian Yarg.
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