The sun shone for the annual Specialist Cheesemakers Association Farm Visit on 9th & 10th July. This year it was held at the farm of Simon and Tim Jones, makers of Lincolnshire Poacher – a delicious cross between a West Country cheddar and an alpine cheese like Comte.
Over 100 specialist cheesemakers and cheesemongers met in the beautiful setting of the Lincolnshire Wolds to talk about cheese, farming and the future of artisan cheese production. We were treated to farm and dairy tours, cheese tasting, talks and delicious food over the weekend.
Jon, the Head Cheese Maker, talked us through their cheesemaking process as we stared intently at the creamy curd still draining in the vat, a fascinating insight for all of us. Once the Lincolnshire Poacher cheese making is complete, the cheeses are placed on wooden shelves in the cheese store and turned monthly until ripe, 14-16 months later.
Tim Jones gave us the history of the farm as we stood inside the beautifully restored barn. The farm has been in their family since 1917 and they produced their first cheese in 1992. We were delighted to visit the cheese caves where hundreds of Lincolnshire Poacher truckles were at various stages of maturation. The smell of the cave was amazing, a beautiful earthy, sweet, nutty smell unlike anything else and so different from the maturing rooms at Hampshire Cheese Company.
An important part of this annual event is to see what some of our fellow cheesemakers have been working on and developing. Eight cheesemakers presented their cheeses, mainly new recipes whilst the keen and knowledgeable cheese gurus shared their thoughts, ideas and feedback.
Another sunny and hot day followed on Sunday with Simon walking us around the farm. He explained their choice of herbal leys and feed, how they care for their Holstein Fresian Cows in order to produce the high quality and unique milk for their cheese. Their desire for sustainable farming was evident when he shared their renewable projects. The installation of a huge wind turbine and solar panels gives them more electricity than they need and they are now net exporters of electricity.
The Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA) provides unparalleled support to cheesemakers in the UK and the weekend was testament to how hard they work to encourage the sharing of knowledge and ideas. We were all so grateful to Simon and Tim and the team at Lincolnshire Poacher for hosting us and look forward to next year’s event.