‘Sparkenhoe’ is made by David and Jo Clarke in a totally authentic way using the farm’s unpasteurised milk. The milk from the previous day’s milking is pumped across from the parlour to the cheese room at 4 am. An old recipe discovered by Jo and David is then followed and traditional animal rennet added. Annatto is then added to give the cheese its rich orange colour. Annatto is a natural plant dye obtained from a South American bush. The curds and whey are then scalded gently and separated. The curds are cut into blocks and turned to release further whey. They are then put through the mill and salt is added. The cheese is put into moulds and pressed for 24 hours, turned and pressed for a further 24 hours. The cheeses are bound in cloth and lard and matured for 6 months in the store at 10 degrees. The cheeses are a traditional shape being made in large wheels of 10kgs and 20kgs.
‘Bosworth Field’ is made with the raw milk from the dairy cows and is made in a small vat. The milk is heated gently and the curds are cut by hand and allowed to pitch for an hour, the curds are then placed in 5kg moulds and pressed gently over night and the following day placed in a brine bath. The cheese is then ripened for 2-3 months when the rind forms, sometimes taking on a gorgeous wrinkly appearance.
‘Battlefield Blue’ is an unpasteurised cheese made in a small vat. The milk is heated and a blue mould added.Once the cheese is made it is pierced to allow the veins to develop through the cheese. The cheeses are ripened in high humidity and a wonderful green, grey rind forms.
‘Sparkenhoe Blue’ is a cheese developed by William Clarke (son of Jo and David) on his return to join the family business in June 2017, The cheese is a traditional blue Leicestershire cheese made with the farm’s unpasteurised milk, it has a creamy texture and a lovely blue vein.
It takes a lot of patience, effort and great attention to detail to make the cheeses and the farm employs 5 local people to help in this who all work as a team to produce the wonderful cheeses.
Caring for your cheese and fridge etiquette
– Here are some basic rules for caring for your cheese in the modern home.
1) Keep cut cheese wrapped in waxed paper, or foil. don’t use cling film-it makes the cheese sweat.
2) Store cheese in the warmest place in the fridge-usually the salad compartment at the bottom of the fridge. (For the technically minded – a fridge is a vacuum, so the usual rule about heat rising doesn’t apply).
3) Bring the cheese to room temperature by removing from the fridge around 1 – 2 hours before serving.
4) Don’t be frightened to trim cheese to remove surface mould. Cheese and mould are natural bedfellows and given a chance, all cheese will grow a coat.
5) Try to avoid bringing the cheese in and out of the fridge by selecting only what you need for the meal. If you are entertaining and have a cheese board likely to make a variety of entrances – try the following trick. Cover the cheese board with a clean wrung-out tea towel, and keep in the room where the central heating is turned off. When the cloth dries out, repeat – this will retain the moisture in the cheese and stop it looking tired.
6) Serve Baby Stilton and Cheddar Truckles by removing a thin “lid” from the top of the cheese, then cutting out small wedges – continue cutting around until a layer is removed. Then start on the next layer and continue until you get to the bottom, helter-skelter fashion. Port is the perfect partner for stilton but remember with it – never in it!
As recommended by Ann-Marie Dyas, Fine Cheese Company Bath.