Those of you who caught my last blog entry will know that I was recently in Somerset, stronghold of traditional English cloth-bound cheddar. The primary reason for the visit was to attend the inaugural conference The Science of Artisan Cheese. It was a privilege to be there on many levels, and not least because the two day conference was held adjacent to Manor Farm, home of Montgomery's cheddar, acknowledged by many to be the benchmark, traditional cloth-bound cheddar.
The Montgomery family have been making cheddar at Manor Farm for over one hundred years, and the recipe has changed little during that time. Milk for production comes from the farm's own herd of Friesian cows and head cheesemaker, Steve Bridges, oversees the daily production of between twelve and fifteen wheels, all made with unpasteurized milk.
The first ever Conference on the Science of Artisan cheese was held at the end of last month in the beautiful setting of North Cadbury Court in Somerset, also home to famed Montgomery’s cheddar.
This was a non-profit initiative, co-sponsored by Neal’s Yard Dairy and the Specialist Cheesemakers Association in the UK, with the concept being the idea that if the dialog between cheesemakers and scientists is expanded and enriched, both parties will benefit. The goal of the conference was to bring together scientists studying the basic principles upon which successful cheesemaking depends with practitioners at the artisan level.
In addition to scientists and cheesemakers, there was also broad participation from the industry and public health professionals, for whom a thorough understanding of the principles of raw milk cheese production are of great importance.