Ten years ago Cheesemakers of Canterbury made its first batch of cheese – Ashmore Farmhouse – at its dairy at Dargate near Faversham.
The 4 kg wheels were pressed, wrapped in muslin for two days, and then unwrapped gently placed on old pine shelves. And every day for the first two months, and then every week, they were turned and hand rubbed to ensure a balanced ripening.
Meanwhile owner Jane Bowyer and her staff held their breath. Did they have a business – or a very, very expensive failure?
It was, we now know, a success, and it is one the most popular Kentish cheeses on the market. Since then the range has expanded regularly to include hard and soft cheeses, cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses. Last year they ventured into sheep’s milk cheeses, with the hard Ramsey, semi-hard Shawn, and camembert-style Dumpy.
This year the Ramsey was awarded Silver at both the British Cheese Awards and the Artisanal Cheese Awards at Melton Mowbray.
“People like its warmth and sweetness,” says Jane. “Sheep’s milk is much richer than cow’s and becoming much more widely enjoyed, so I felt we had to offer our customers some really good examples. These awards confirm our faith in those cheeses!”
It’s been a busy 10th anniversary so far. The 2017 Taste of Kent Awards saw their Cowslip butter named Dairy Product of the Year. Macknade Fine Foods filmed Cheesemakers of Canterbury’s main cheesemaker George Bullock explaining the entire process for its You Tube series on its suppliers.” See it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCKqrMejyYc&t=17s
Their cheese continue to sell to restaurants, pubs and shops across the county and further afield, and there was a real ego-boost when a very nice email dropped into their box from a customer enjoying their Canterbury Cobble in Shanghai.
They take their cheeses to farmers’ markets across the county (see their website for details www.cheesemakersofcanterbury.co.uk) and to the major food events including the Kent County Show and the Broadstairs Food Festivals. Their retail counter at The Goods Shed Canterbury sees visitors filling their suitcases for their trips back to Asia, the Middle East and the Continent.
Meanwhile Jane continues, via the web and email, to mentor a young female cheesemaker in Bhutan, giving practical advice and encouragement.
Credit to: http://www.producedinkent.co.uk/10-years-cheesemaking/