Keen's Cheddar

March 01, 2012     Filed in : Information

Keen's Cheddar Cheese
Keen's Cheddar Cheese

When I first started my career as a cheesemonger, over 17 years ago, there were only a few cheese wholesalers, all of whom supplied the cheeses that they wanted you to buy. My father-in-law used to buy from them, as did I. After a couple of years of buying our regular cheeses, we thought it would be refreshing to try out some different cheese. Back then there was no such thing as the internet, so trying to find these new cheeses and supply lines was done by telephone and word-of-mouth. On one of those fact finding escapades we came across an unpasteurised cheddar made by the Keen family on their farm at Shepton Montague, which is just outside Wincanton.

We contacted them and found out that we could buy directly from them, which is what we have been doing for the past 15 years. Originally, when we went down to the farm, it proved to be quite difficult to find, as the farm doesn't promote its cheese making. On finding the farm,which has an impressive turret at one end of the house, we were greeted by the Keen family. At that time they ran their business out of a small office which was connected to the old dairy with its flagstone floor and large copper cauldrons.

We were then introduced to their magnificent cheddar which is produced from unpasteurised milk from their 250 Friesians. High quality milk, which is a cheesemaker's dream. Bypassing the pasteurisation process enables that quality to shine through in the finished product. But as George Keen points out, “A hard cheese like cheddar has to mature for so long that any bugs simply die off. Our Cheddar is matured for 11 to 12 months, and that length of time really allows the flavours to build and develop. The feedback from our customers is always very positive; we are pleased when they say that eating our cheese brings back memories of childhood, because that's what we are all about, making cheese the way it used to be made. We want to produce a cheese that stimulates and satisfies your taste buds.”

Nowadays we still collect our cheddar directly from the farm, but these days we have to dodge Ned the farm dog who doesn't seem to like me, especially my feet. Still it is a small price to pay for one of England's best cheddars.