When we were offered the opportunity to taste some of Wyke Farms cheeses and butter we welcomed it with open arms. It arrived in a very natty little hessian branded cool bag and when we looked inside there was a delightful range or cheese, unsalted and salted butter to try. So who are Wyke Farm?
Wyke Farm, in Wyke Champflower, near Bruton in Somerset has been making Cheddar Cheese for generations, since 1789 at least, using a recipe that has remained unchanged for 150 years, following “Grandmother Ivy’s recipe”.
Unlike so many cheeses, cheddar does not hold a Protected Designation of Origin within the European Union, which allows anyone to make this hard, off-white or orange cheese, although only the four counties of South West England using locally sourced milk, are permitted to call their cheese “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar “.
Wyke Farms’ cheeses all carry the symbol on their packaging that indicates that they are part of the Red Tractor Scheme. This is the only good scheme that offers full traceability of products from farm to finished pack on the supermarket shelf. The union flag, which forms part of the Red Tractor logo, indicates that Wykes Farms cheese is made using only milk from British farms and that the farms that supply their milk are all mostly within a 35 mile radius of their dairy. The Red Tractor Scheme also assures the buyer that the cattle that supply the milk are properly cared for, with regular health checks and that they live in a comfortable living space with unlimited access to fresh, clean drinking water.
Wykes Farm Cheddar comes in 5 different coloured packets: Red for Mature, Purple for Extra Mature, Green for Vintage, Brown for Smoked and Black for Ivy’s Vintage. We were unsurprised to hear that the Mature has won a world cheese award and has a smooth, round, creamy almost silky flavour and texture.
The Extra Mature is tangier and has a real bite to it, definitely more full-flavoured and is their best-seller.
The Vintage is left to mature for over 15 months, giving the cheese a more forceful taste which has garnered numerous awards. The Smoked Cheddar ( which we didn’t try) is allowed to mature for at least 12 months before being smoked for 16 hours in a local smokehouse using traditional methods.
Finally, Ivy’s Vintage is named in honour of the current farmer’s grandmother, Ivy. Because all the cheeses are made to her recipe, the dairy’s Master Cheese a Grader selects only the finest cheese after 15 months of maturation. Over the years, this cheese has won more awards than any other.
We used the vintage to rustle up one of my favourite go to light lunches a cheese toasty, we weren’t disappointed. 10/10 for meltability and flavour. Okay so we were naughty. We cooked it in a pan with some of the delicious unsalted butter. I know, I know, but we don’t do it everyday !