Barber’s Farmhouse Cheesemakers, makers of the Westminster brand of farmhouse cheddars, have been making cheese for six generations starting in 1833 – making them the oldest traditional cheddar maker in England! They are situated in the heart of Somerset, just 15 miles from the village of Cheddar itself, and have over 3,000 acres of land with 2,000 Holstein-Friesian cows that are free to roam the grounds. The cheddar that you’ve received today is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) farmhouse cheddar, ensuring that the milk is made locally, and the cheese is assessed by a professional grader and produced using traditional methods including turning the curds by hand, maturing on the farm for a minimum of nine months. With this rating, you can be assured that the cheddar you are buying is truly characteristic to the region. Your cheese also won the Gold Medal in the 2012 World Cheese Awards for Best Mature Cheddar. Barber’s was the only entry from the United Kingdom to make it to the finals, thus making them the best British cheddar in the world!
The aroma of authentic farmhouse cheddar should be nutty or grassy, with a rich texture and complex flavors ranging from fruity to a woody oakiness. Factory processed cheddar is usually rubbery and dense and without the few cracks you will find in your Barber's farmhouse cheddar which can range in color from straw yellow to beige.
There are two theories on how Cheddar got its name. The first is that it is named after the English town Cheddar in southwestern England, where the cheese was first made. The other theory is that the name derives from one of the steps in the cheese-making process. After the cow's milk curd is scalded twice, it is "cheddared" by repeatedly being cut up to remove whey and breaking the curd until it is smooth and silky.
We love English Cheddar for its buttery, nutty richness, without the slightest hint of bitterness or bite. This richness and creaminess can in part be attributed to the Brown Swiss cow's milk from which English Cheddar is made. This breed is renowned for having the perfect fat-to-protein ratio, which results in a fantastically, full-flavored cheddar.
The flavor of Cheddar is often described as "sharp," which is a direct relation to the acidity level. The higher it is, the sharper the cheese tastes. It is very easy to put this "sharpness" into cheese, and it actually kills other flavors. So what most farmhouse cheddar makers strive for is a breadth of flavors that develop with time. You'll know great cheddar if you can still taste the sweet nuttiness several minutes after you have finished your first mouthful.
Cheddar can be paired wonderfully with dark beer. MonthlyClubs.com offers excellent domestic and international selections through The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. Check it out at www.beermonthclub.com.
Experience International Variety
You might receive a Gaperon, originating in France during the 14th Century, an
authentic Lancashire by Ruth Kirkham, and an Italian Taleggio matured in the
caves of Valsassina…all in one shipment!