Bunhill: Hard cheese for the traditional producer

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The Independent Online
WHEN is Farmhouse Cheddar not really a farmhouse cheese? When it's been matured in plastic bags rather than the traditional cloth covering, that's when.

This is not a quibble, it's a matter of authenticity, taste and quality. According to Tom Langdon-Davies, who makes real Farmhouse with his wife, Mary Quicke, the cloth performs the same function as the wood casks in which fine wines are matured.

Cheeses matured in cloth have a far more concentrated taste than the plastic variety because cloth, like wood, is porous. So more of the water and whey evaporates than if the cheese is kept in impermeable plastic.

Later this year, a European directive will define the description 'West Country Farmhouse Cheddar'. Unfortunately the term is the property of the Milk Marketing Board, which licenses producers of plastic-wrapped lumps, often churned out at up to 9,000 tons a year, 20 times the production of traditionalists such as Mary Quicke.

(Photograph omitted)