At the risk of recycling and mangling a very laboured analogy, it seems that mixed milk cheeses are like buses – you wait three years and then they all come along at once. Doublet, which I wrote about at the end of last year, is a Somerset cheese made using cow and sheeps’ milk. This week I bring you Sharpham Savour, which uses cow and goats’.
Sharpham Savour is an unpasteurised, semi-hard, mixed milk cheese, made by the Sharpham Partnership on a thousand-year-old farm near Totnes in Devon. The dairy is part of a larger estate which was bought by an economist turned environmentalist in 1961. As well as establishing vineyards there, he determined to produce a Brie-style cheese, at a time when such soft cheeses were rare to non-existent in the UK. In addition, his desire to make them from the rich and fatty milk of his Jersey cows was also considered eccentric. Nevertheless, in 1980, cheese-making began in the coachyard of Sharpham House and Sharpham was their first cheese.
Mark Sharman and Debbie Mumford are now in charge of the dairy (Sharpham also make Ticklemore, which I wrote about recently). Savour was developed in 2010 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of South Devon being designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. Made from the milk of the Jersey cows that graze the pastures of the estate, plus the addition of goats’ milk, it’s a washed curd cheese. This means that whey is removed and replaced with hot water, which ‘washes’ the curds. This process removes the lactose (milk sugars), keeping the acidity of the cheese low and retaining moisture; this results in the distinctive sweet and nutty taste of many Dutch cheeses. This cheese is no Gouda though and is instead modelled on Coulommiers, a Brie-like French farmhouse cheese.
Savour is a cheese to please everyone. The goats’ milk lends a tanginess to the cheese but goat-haters would be hard-pressed to detect anything overly-caprine in there. Instead the cheese is creamy – gooier and slightly mushroomy just underneath the natural white rind and firmer towards the centre. They also make a version with caraway seeds, again with a nod to Dutch cheese-making. And if you needed another reason to try it, Sharpham also produce more than a dozen wines that you could attempt to match it with.