Cheese made by dale producers recognised for great taste
TEESDALE Cheesemakers has been declared a Great Taste Producer after another two of its cheeses were awarded stars in this year’s awards.
They are organised annually by the Guild of Fine Food which this year attracted 12,777 entries, of which only 42 per cent received stars
The awarding of two stars for Teesdale Cheesemakers’ Nanny Blue and a single star for Alison’s Garlic Cheese means that all seven of the varieties they produce now have Great Taste recognition.
It also means that owners Jonathan and Allison Raper are recognised as Great Taste producers.
Previous cheeses to earn stars are Teesdale Blue, Hilton White, Barney Bree, Doris and Teesdale Goat Cheese.
Mrs Raper said the Nanny Blue is a blue goat’s cheese to complement the existing white goat’s cheese and the new garlic cheese was inspired by her Maltese heritage. In Malta young cheeses left over from market are pickled, but not being a fan of pickled cheese, she decided to make a young cheese that is flavoured instead.
Mrs Raper said: “I wasn’t expecting it to win any awards because it is such a young cheese so I was really delighted that it got a star.”
The awards come on the back of major changes for the couple, who have had to rethink their business model because of Covid-19.
They now produce a wide range of food at their Café Cheesedale site, near Copley, including toasties, their own pork products, as well as products from other local producers, including beers from Evenwood’s McColls Brewery and Barnard Castle Brewery. They also started making pizzas, using dough made from locally sourced flour, a sauce made from Mrs Raper’s Maltese grandma’s recipe and their own cheese.
Mr Raper said: “What else do you need in a pandemic other than bread, cheese and beer?”
They are also now raising rare breed pigs, which Mrs Raper said thrive on the whey left over from the cheese-making process, ensuring nothing goes to waste.
The couple are also preparing a new cheese for Christmas, which is as yet unnamed.
Mr Raper said: “It is a harder cheese and it is stronger. It takes 13 weeks to mature – that is the longest we have done.”
In addition the couple have teamed up with Danny McColl, of McColls Brewery, to pair up some of his mature oak-cask aged beers with their new cheese to produce Christmas gift hampers.