This week’s cheese had a lot to live up to. I’d bought it once before at an agricultural show and then left it in my mother-in-law’s fridge before I’d even opened it. By all accounts they enjoyed eating it. When I managed to buy some more, on another visit to the West Country, it was the first thing I checked had gone into the cool box in the car.
Snowdrop is a fresh, pasteurised, soft goat’s cheese, made by Woolsery Cheese near Dorchester in Dorset. Made in the imposing shadow of the Cerne Abbas Giant and his infamous appendage, Woolsery make a range of cheeses from both cow’s and goat’s milk. The business was founded in the early 1990s by Annette Lee. After listening to a radio programme about goats, she built up a herd, originally milking them by hand and selling the milk, before learning to make cheese herself. Originally based in Devon, she then moved to Dorset in 1999 and kept her goats in Somerset. Unfortunately, when the foot-and-mouth outbreak happened in 2001, Dorset was left unscathed but her goats over the border had to be destroyed. As soon as she could, Annette began cheese-making again and building up another herd. Since then, her cheeses have collected awards year upon year.
To make Snowdrop, the pasteurised goat’s milk is gently heated and a starter culture is added to raise the acidity of the milk. When this has happened the rennet can get to work, converting the milk to curds. The curds are left for several hours to become firm, before being ladled into small moulds to drain. When they are ready to leave the mould, they’re lightly salted. The result is a firm cheese – firm enough even to slice and grill or deep-fry. For those who don’t like their goat’s cheese to head-butt them in the palate, it’s a subtle cheese, fresh and slightly citrusy (Annette herself is apparently not a fan of ‘goaty’ cheese). Definitely one worth waiting for.
Additional research from West Country Cheesemakers by Michael Raffael.