INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

This March 8th we’d like to celebrate International Women's Day by showcasing some amazing women behind a few of our favourite cheeses…

Throughout history, women have played a crucial role in cheese-making. In Europe traditional cheese-making was generally regarded as “women’s work”; while the men busied themselves with the farm’s labour, women were left indoors rearing the children, looking after the household and making cheese. Hard-work and multi-tasking are certainly still tools in many women’s arsenal and the women below are no exception.

 

 

 

Jane Grubb & Sarah Furno

Jane created Cashel Blue in 1984 with her husband Louis. We can’t thank her enough for the role that she played in creating the original Irish farmhouse blue cheese; wonderfully balanced between the buttery curds and the persistently minerally moulds, this cheese is notably versatile. In 1992 the Grubbs expanded their production to include a ewe’s milk blue cheese called Crozier Blue; a creamy, slightly gritty texture - malty and sweet on the front, finishing with an expansive depth of spicy salt. Today Jane has retired, enjoying life on the family farm, and her daughter Sarah has taken up the mantle as a second-generation cheese-maker. The cheeses remain of exceptional quality, with Sarah bringing a wealth of food & wine experience back to the dairy.

Ruth Kirkham

Ruth began making Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire in 1978 after her mother retired, passing down her cheese-making equipment, knowledge and recipe. Ruth transformed the old piggery into a cheese-making dairy and for many years she (along with her husband John) milked their herd and made cheese each day. Ruth’s son Graham returned back to farm and joined the family business; working alongside his mum to make the cheese we know and love today. Delicious eaten fresh & crumbly or, after a few months' maturing, when the cheese becomes denser and more full-bodied, with rich mineral, earthy flavours and creme fraiche tanginess.

Stacey Hedges & Charlotte Spruce

Stacey travelled the world before settling down in Hampshire; making the first Tunworth prototype in her family kitchen. She was later joined by Charlotte and together they set up Hampshire Cheese; an artisanal dairy focussed on hand-made cheese. Their passion comes across in each of their cheeses: Tunworth: this is a great leap forward for British cheesemaking, taking on French styles of cheesemaking but with a distinctly English edge. Winslade: designed as a meeting point between Vacherin du Haut-Doubs and Camembert, wrapped in a collar of spruce, the bark imbues the cheese with subtle woody pine notes

Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith

A former school teacher turned cheese-maker, Siobhán joined her neighbours Meg & Derrick Gordon in their gourmet cottage industry and eventually took over the business in 1999, following their retirement. Siobhán is a firm believer in organic farming practises and today Saint Tola is still made in small batches, as the artisanal quality of the cheese is paramount to everything she hopes to achieve. The pastures are rich with herbs and stippled with wildflowers throughout, which adds a lovely floral finish to the close-textured goat cheese log with good citric acidity. 

Rose Grimond

Rose has been instrumental in turning her family  farm into the Nettlebed Creamery. Bix: a bloomy rind rich buttery cheese has cream added to the curds to give the unctuous flavours a dense grassy sweetness with a yoghurt twang at the finish. The milk is from  Merrimoles Farm’s organic 3-way cross herd (Montbeliarde, Swedish Poll and Friesian Holstein). A perfect cheese for Champagne!

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Rachel Yarrow

After reading an article about a goats' cheese maker in an old copy of 'Woman and Home' magazine, Rachel and her husband Fraser decided to abandon their previous careers and become cheese-makers. With milk from their own herd of pedigree Anglo Nubian goats & another local herd, today they make Sinodun Hill: a truncated pyramid with a nutty geotrichum rind. The pate has a mellow tangy flavour, with faint citrus notes. 

Julie Hay

Berkswell is made under the guidance of Julie and the Fletcher family.  Berkswell tastes fresh on first impact, becoming full & nutty as the taste buds take over. With its natural washed & rubbed hard crust dimpled from the basket mould containers, this is very close to a French Pyrénées cheese. Young cheeses have a sweet creaminess to the taste, but with maturing for at least 5 months the cheeses becomes denser in texture & the flavours more intense & rewarding.

Julie Cheyney

Julie learnt to milk cows when she was 16 years old and her cheese-making experience began in 2005 when she partnered by with her friend Stacey Hedges and created the first Tunworth. She has since started her own production using milk from the Montebeliarde herd of Jonny Crickmore’s farm and created St. Jude: the flavours of the pasture are intact giving the cheese an earthy richness becoming more evident as it ages. This little cheese is a lot like Saint Marcellin from the Rhone Alpes, but with a sappy, savoury Suffolk sensibility.

Selina Errington

Errington Cheese are a small, family-run farm and cheese company started by Humphrey Errington in the early 1980's. Humphrey’s daughter Selina is following in the family footsteps & created Corra Linn; a ewe’s milk cheese along the lines of Manchego but with the natural moulds to the crust. Named after the highest waterfall in the picturesque Clyde Falls, the unique vegetal flavours come through with a hint of earthy sweetness.

Marie Harel: 1761-1884 

We could not forget the legacy of this French cheesemaker, who invented Camembert.  By creating this small, soft and utterly delicious cheese taking note of a local recipe she not only created an iconic cheese but also what she also kick-started was the initiation of entrepreneurial cheesemakers in her region to develop the production of Camembert on a large scale.  Her style of cheese has been much copied throughout France and the rest of the world, but perhaps even more interesting is that she also enlisted the help of a gentleman by the name of Eugene Ridel, who was an engineer living in Normandy, who invented the thin wooden box made for the delicate cheese to fit into, thereby making it suitable for travelling long distances.