Our Blog Has Moved

17 September 2011

The Big Cheese: Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar

Hafod cheese is handmade on the 130 acre family farm, Bwlchwernen Fawr in West Wales by Sam and Rachel Holden. The farm has been under organic stewardship since 1973 making it the longest standing registered organic dairy farm in Wales.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Patrick Holden, director of The Soil Association who has been based at the farm for some 40 years, suggested the idea of developing a cheese to his son, Sam. Both Sam and his wife Rachel thought the idea appealing enough for them to give up their careers in London and move to country.

The Cheese
Hafod cheese is made in small batches using traditional methods on their purpose built dairy farm. The recipe is locally originated from the late Dougal Campbell, who learned to make cheese in the Swiss Alps before he moved to West Wales in the early 80’s.

Hafod first started to be made in 2007 and since then, a small batch is crafted every other day piping milk directly from their milking parlour into their Dutch, wooden sided open vat.
The recipe is very similar to that of cheddar, but it has a distinctive rich, buttery and nutty flavour, not unlike a Gruyere, harking back to its Swiss origins.

The cheese is made from raw (unpasteurised) milk from their Ayrshire breed herd. Ayrshire milk is rich in butterfat and protein and is widely regarded as being perfect for cheese making, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture.
The cheese is formed into 10kg rounds and matured for 10 to 18 months, developing a traditional mould rind.

The Herd
The choice to establish a herd of brown and white patterned Ayrshire cows was partly by accident and partly through lack of experience. A breed was needed that was well suited to the farm’s climate and high rainfall.
The only snag is that Ayrshire cows are not noted for giving high yields of milk, but this did not deter the Holdens as for what Ayrshires lack in quantity they more than make up for in quality.
The herd of 65, considered to be small by modern standards, is just right for Bwlchwernen farm to be able to sustain as they do not have to heavily rely on bought-in feed. It’s a small operation that turns out a superior product.

Photos: © childsdesign
Cheese To Your Door
To make mail order simple, the innovative ‘letterbox’ cheese is a cleverly cut large semicircular slice ideal for posting, so the cost is kept down and there’s no need to wait in for delivery.

Visit Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar on The Artisan Food Trail here

Photos (unless otherwise stated): © Kiran Ridley www.kiranridley.com

1 comment: