Cream Cheese (Soft Cheese)

Arthur and May started making their clotted cream in 1956 after six years of building up the herd of Pedigree TT Jerseys. Before Arthur invested in his Jersey herd his mother Lilian used to make cream cheese and sell it in local markets. Arthur started to make the cheese again using the milk from his own Jerseys. In the beginning the cream cheeses were simply flavoured with parsley, onion and walnuts, later on there were over 40 different flavours of cream cheese, Arthur never let any idea stand still and liked to experiment. His first son Robert was renowned for having his grandmother’s gift for cheese making. In 1958 ‘Parsley cheese: cream cheese to which parsley is added- suggested for sandwiches or on cream-crackers, cost 1/3d, (6p).

Mary Cowen describes the process.“Arthur was left with a load of skimmed milk, they used to separate the cream with a cream separator, and he started to make curds with this skimmed milk. He built a whole pile of little wooden boxes about nine inches square divided down the middle, line this with muslin, pour the curds into drain, and when it was drained you pulled out the muslin wrap up the cheese, wrap into greaseproof paper and that was ready to be sold as soft cheese. So that’s how the cheese making started. The shippon was turned into the dairy. All the cheeses and everything were made in that dairy. They were packed in little triangular plastic trays and in the shops they had a little turntable that held eight of these trays. So that they could serve whichever flavour the customer wanted. At first they could just fill it up like a tub of ice-cream, later on the law came in that they had to be sold by actual weight.” Mary Cowen

Arthur readily admitted that his first attempts at cheese making were not very satisfactory, but perseverance plus the ambition to succeed in a highly competitive market paved the way for the super quality cheeses he manufactured. Since those early attempts he had come a long way in only 12 months. His cheeses were now famous in a large number of towns and cities, particularly in the Midlands and North, for their quality and exciting flavours- such as nuts and wine, pineapple, prawn and mouth-watering ham. The late 1950s saw a growing interest in new and exciting food from many parts of the world. There were more than 20 varieties of Fordhall flavoured cheeses on sale by 1965. The flavourings include onions, chives, pineapple, horseradish, cucumber, nuts and wine, garlic, pickled walnuts, celery or celery herb, pimento, parsley and herbs, apricot chutney, shrimp, lobster, smoked salmon, Nuts and wine (a blend of Italian wine, hazel nuts and ground almonds) and caviar. Eventually, there were over 40 different flavours, thanks to suggestions from customers, and Arthur and May’s flair for experimentation. Where possible the ingredients used were sourced locally.

Arthur was left with a lot of skimmed milk after making his cheese and cream. to make full use of this resource he started to make yoghourt (yoghurt) in his dairy.

To find out more about Yoghourt at Fordhall Farm click here

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