Blue is doing well here on a 6 week Crozier
“The French,” she's said, “call sheep's milk liquid gold”. Perhaps because it is precious - they produce so very little per ewe - and because too it is nice to work with. But you have to have patience with it. The milk contains more solids than cow's milk and so the cheese takes longer to develop.
Goat's milk, she told us, is closer to buffalo than sheep (which is creamier). And, Sarah (who like husband Sergio, another key player at Beechmount, has a wine background) emphasized that sheep’s milk is a product of its terroir. “It varies from place to place. Fascinating!” And another thing, sheep’s milk is easier to digest.
She showed us the display of wheels. “Our cheeses are not particularly large - Stilton is much larger.” The smaller size is down to practical reasons. In a small operation, smaller wheels are easier to handle and quite often it is women doing the handling. The big wheels have one advantage though: “The larger the cheese, the longer it will last.”
We had a tasting of the various cheeses. These included a young Crozier Blue. It was rather “dry” at this stage. The trademark creaminess develops with age!
Salt is the only preservative in cheese and it is essential and the mould too is extremely important to the development of the cheese. She then led us through the dairy, explaining the various parts of the process. You may check out the more important steps right here.
|Some of the thousands of wheels in the Maturation Room|
|Main cheesemaker Geurt van den Dikkenberg, using the cheese harp|
It is hard work too drawing that cheese harp through the curds and whey in large vats time after time; cheesemakers back is an occupational hazard. Not easy work at all and yes that Cheese Harp has to be re-strung from time to time.
There is of course some mechanical help with placing the curd from the vats into moulds and also with the injection of the wheels to allow the blue to occur and also the turning of the wheels but nothing whatsoever to compromise the integrity of this natural product. Find out more about the Cashel way of cheese making here.
|Wheels, ready for turning|