How to discover hidden artisanal cheese makers in the English countryside?

Indulging yourself in the rich, diverse world of cheese is an experience of a lifetime. It's not just about the taste; it is also about the journey. Embarking on a quest to discover the hidden artisans who devote their lives to cheesemaking, tucked away in the picturesque English countryside, is a voyage you will not soon forget. Let us guide you along the winding lanes and through the rolling hills of the UK, where cheese is not just food, but a way of life.

The Art of Cheesemaking

At the very heart of cheese lies milk, the elixir of life for newborn mammals. Yet, in the hands of skilled craftsmen, this basic food source transforms into a decadent treat for the senses.

Cheesemakers, like the finest artisans, begin with raw materials. In this case, it's fresh, unpasteurized milk straight from the cow. The milk is then carefully heated and combined with specific cultures and rennet, which aid in turning the milk into cheese. The curd that forms is cut, releasing the whey, and then it is pressed into molds. The cheese is then aged, which can range from a few days to several years.

However, not every cheesemaker follows the same steps. Some cheeses, like traditional British Cheddar, require the curds to be heated again after cutting, a process known as "cheddaring." This step gives cheddar its unique texture.

Tracing the Origins of British Cheese

The roots of cheesemaking in the British Isles stretch back over a thousand years. Whether it's the sharp, crumbly Cheshire, the potent Stilton blue, or the creamy, subtle Brie-style Baron Bigod, British cheese is as varied as the landscape from which it springs.

Each cheese tells a story about its place of origin. The salty, crumbly texture of Cheshire reflects the mineral-rich pastures of the Cheshire Plain. In contrast, Stilton, Britain's "King of Cheeses," is a reflection of the lush grazing pastures found in the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire.

These traditional British cheeses have stood the test of time and continue to be handmade by dedicated artisans in dairy farms scattered across the countryside.

Embarking on a Cheese Discovery Day

While you can read about the fascinating stories behind each type of cheese, nothing compares to actually visiting a farm and witnessing the cheesemaking process firsthand. A cheese discovery day is a perfect opportunity to do just that.

During a cheese discovery day, you'll visit a working dairy farm, where you'll get an up-close look at the entire cheesemaking process. From the milking of the cows to the aging of the cheese, you can watch the transformation of milk into cheese unfold before your eyes. This hands-on learning experience is a perfect way to immerse yourself in the traditional craft of cheesemaking that's been passed down through generations.

A Peek into the World of Artisan Cheeses

Amid the rolling hills and quaint country lanes, you'll find a host of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. These are the small, boutique cheeses makers who create small-batch cheeses using traditional methods and recipes passed down from generation to generation.

At every corner of the English countryside, you will find these artisanal cheesemakers. Their passion and respect for the craft of cheesemaking shine through their products. Whether it's a creamy blue, a crumbly cheddar or a tangy goat's cheese, the selection of handcrafted cheese is endless.

Visiting these farms is not just about tasting cheese. It's about understanding the process, the craftsmanship, and the tradition that goes into each wheel of cheese. It's about meeting the cows, the cheesemakers, and understanding their passion and dedication.

The Power of Knowledge: Books on Cheesemaking

While the hands-on experience of a cheese discovery day is invaluable, you can deepen your knowledge even further with an extensive selection of books available on cheesemaking. Not only will you learn more about how cheese is made, but you'll also discover the rich heritage of British cheeses.

Books like "The Art of Making Cheese" or "A Year in Cheese" offer an in-depth look into the process of crafting artisan cheeses. From understanding how the seasons affect the taste and texture of the cheese to learning about the microbial world that turns milk into cheese, these books provide a comprehensive understanding of the craft.

Venturing into the world of cheese is a journey of discovery. From the traditional farms to the boutique cheesemakers, the English countryside is a treasure trove of culinary delight. Armed with this knowledge, you can embark on your cheese discovery day with a deeper appreciation for the craft and tradition of cheesemaking.

Visiting Award-Winning Cheese Producers

There are numerous award-winning cheese producers hidden deep in the English countryside, who have perfected the art of making cheese. Most of these producers adhere to traditional methods of cheesemaking, resulting in high-quality, exquisite cheese.

Artisan cheese is a product of time, patience, skill, and dedication. It's not a process that can be rushed or mass-produced. Each wheel of cheese is carefully handcrafted with care, attention to detail, and love. The dairy farmers, who double as the cheesemakers, know each of their cows by name. They ensure the cows are well-fed, healthy, and happy, as the quality of milk a cow produces directly influences the quality of the cheese.

These farmhouses produce a wide variety of cheeses from cow's milk, sheep's milk, and sometimes goat's milk. Each type of milk introduces a different set of flavors and textures to the cheese. For instance, cheese from cow's milk is usually creamy and sweet, whereas cheese made from sheep's milk has a more robust and tangy flavor.

Visiting these award-winning cheese producers gives you a chance to sample and buy some of the best cheese in the world. You also get to meet the people behind the cheese and learn about their passion for artisan cheesemaking.

Delving into the Culture, Style, and History of Cheese

Cheese is an integral part of British culture and history. Each style of cheese is a reflection of the region where it's made, the history of the people, and the natural environment—factors that all influence the flavor.

For instance, Cheddar cheese, which originated in the village of Cheddar in Somerset, is world-famous for its rich, nutty flavor and smooth, firm texture. The cheesemakers in this region have been making Cheddar the same way for hundreds of years, using unpasteurized cow's milk and a unique aging process in the caves of the Cheddar Gorge.

Blue cheese, like Stilton, is another style of cheese with a strong heritage and history. Named after the village of Stilton in England, this cheese has a rich, creamy texture and a sharp, tangy flavor. It's one of the few British cheeses granted the status of a protected designation of origin by the European Union.

Understanding the history and culture that surrounds each style of cheese adds another layer of appreciation when you taste them. It's not just consuming a product; it's experiencing a piece of history, a taste of the land, and a glimpse into the lives of the people who make it.


The journey to discover hidden artisanal cheese makers in the English countryside is an adventure filled with delicious flavors, beautiful landscapes, and captivating stories. Whether you're a cheese connoisseur or a curious traveler, this trip will leave you with a deeper appreciation of the craft and tradition of cheesemaking.

Tasting the different styles of cheese, experiencing the process of cheese production firsthand, and understanding the history and culture around each type of cheese, provides a unique sensory experience.

With this guide, we hope you are inspired to embark on your own cheese discovery day. Remember, the beauty of this journey lies not just in the destination but in the people you meet, the stories you hear, and the delicious artisan cheese you get to taste along the way. Enjoy your exploration of this charming side of the English countryside and its fantastic cheese!

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