We are very lucky in Lancashire to have a reputation for making great award winning regional cheeses, writes Tracy Hargreaves
I’ve been pretty lucky to have visited all nine Lancashire cheesemakers to see how their cheese was made. Each one has a distinct taste and texture and no two are the same, but how did Lancashire come to be a cheese making county?
Cheese making in Lancashire can be traced back as far as the 12th century. Production grew rapidly and records, dating back to the 1300s, show Lancashire cheese was shipped from Liverpool to London. In the mid-1900s, farmers often didn’t have enough surplus milk to make a whole cheese, so, without refrigeration the best way to keep it was to turn it into curd and store overnight at room temperature. This curd was then mixed with the curd from the following day. This unique method of making cheese is still adhered to today by Lancashire’s cheesemakers. It can also be known as Creamy or Tasty, depending on its age.
However, all cheese production in the region stopped during the Second World War, when Lancashire’s cheese was classified as a soft cheese and unsuitable for rationing. This obviously had a detrimental effect on the industry and when production was allowed to restart in 1948, only 22 of the initial 200 farms and creameries farms remained making Lancashire cheese.
Lancashire Crumbly was a new Lancashire cheese to hit the market in the 1960s and was launched to compete with other white crumbly cheese such as Cheshire. Since then, Lancashire cheese has remained as popular as ever with our producers bringing home a raft of awards in the annual British Cheese Awards. New products are regularly being introduced, including; smoked cheeses, gently smoked over oak chippings, leaving a delicate sweet smoky flavour, goat and sheep cheese, sweet blends with ginger or cranberries or savoury blends with garlic or caramelised onions. If you are looking for something different there’s always the wedding cheese cake and the Christmas cheese cake.
This Christmas try a cheese board from one of our Lancashire cheese producers: Dewlay, Mrs Kirkham, Singletons, JJ Sandham, Leagrams, Procters, Butlers, Shorrocks and Greenfields. Once you’ve had Lancashire cheese, you will be converted for life.