I recently wrote about my conversion to cheese with bits in (not that ‘full turkey dinner’ stuff, though, I draw the line at that). Whereas I used to shy away from any cheese that had been ‘mucked about with’ (to quote one cheese professional I met), I am now willing to give such cheeses a try, having found such beauties as Posbury and Vulscombe. So it was that when I recently ordered some cheese, I added this one to the basket:
Cornish Gouda with Honey and Clover is a pasteurised, semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese made by Giel Spiering on Talvan Farm in Lanreath, Cornwall. Giel’s parents are Dutch and moved their family to England in 1998. At the time it was cheaper for them to buy land and cows over here, rather than in Holland. But they couldn’t have foreseen plummeting British milk prices. Giel returned from college one day to find a ‘For Sale’ sign hanging on the gate and his father ready to give up and retire. Determined to keep the family farm going, he embarked upon a cheesemaking adventure.
The family had brought a wooden vat with them from Holland years before, because they were used to gouda and didn’t really like the cheese they could buy in the supermarket. Giel was just 19 when he decided to start making cheese to diversify the business. He bought second-hand equipment, spent three weeks in Holland with his cheesemaking aunt and uncle and the business was born in 2012. The initial dairy was a converted World War Two Nissen Hut.
Like Caws Teifi over in Wales, Giel makes traditional Dutch gouda. Gouda is made differently to traditional British hard cheeses such as Cheddar or Gloucester. After the curd has been cut into small pieces, some of the whey is drained away and replaced with hot water. This ‘washed curd’ method of cheesemaking removes some of the lactose that would otherwise be broken down during maturation to produce the characteristic tang of cheeses like Cheddar. Washed curd cheeses are instead defined by a sweet, nutty taste. Another difference is that the pressed goudas are bathed in a brine solution to add salt, whereas salt is added at the curd stage with our hard cheeses. Finally, goudas are coated in edible wax to prevent moulds growing.
Giel also produces goudas flavoured with fenugreek and Italian herbs but I plumped for the more unusual variety, made with clover and honey. Gouda is naturally quite sweet so I wondered if the addition of honey and clover might make it a bit sickly. Funnily enough, the opposite was almost true, as the cheese tasted herbal and earthy, albeit with a natural sweetness from the cheese. As well as being a tasty and quirky addition to a cheeseboard, it struck me that it would be a great cheese to cook with and so, in my next post I’ll be cooking up a treat with what I haven’t already scoffed. Seeing as I’m about to head off to an internet-free moor in deepest Devon, quite when that will be is anyone’s guess…
In the meantime – what’s your position on cheese with bits in? Any favourites?
Additional research from Western Morning News.