MODERN WOMEN IN CHEESE
Throughout history, women have played a crucial role in cheese-making. Traditional cheese-making has generally been regarded as ‘women’s work’ - while the men were busy with farm labour, women were usually indoors rearing the children, looking after the household and making cheese. This fits with the rhythm of traditional cheesemaking; milk takes time to curdle and needs to be attended to for short periods of time, spread throughout the day. So in between the cheesemaking steps, women could do other chores, going back to the milk as and when necessary. By the end of the day the curds would be placed into moulds or made into small cheeses, the cream would be made into butter and so on.
However, cheesemaking drastically changed in Britain following the Second World War, when many of these small family farms were closed to make way for increased Cheddar production. Since Cheddar stores well with a long shelf life and is able to be cut without crumbling, it was the perfect cheese for rationing where wastage would have been a big concern. Unfortunately, after the war had ended, many of these small producers did not start making cheese again. Recipes were lost. Cheesemaking in Britain had completely changed. But over the years since, this spirit of small-scale farmhouse cheese has been revived, in no small part due to some courageous women who have shown the same hard-working spirit of their predecessors. Read more below as we celebrate some of the Modern Women in Cheese.