Who: Appleby’s Cheese Co.
Where: Shropshire, England
Milk Type: cow, raw
Texture: firm, crumbly
Shape: 48lb drum
Flavor: among the most subtle and mild of cheeses, this particular Appleby’s is more savory, tangy and “clean” as you imagine the best pure dairy should be
Last January I reviewed Appleby’s Cheshire and, again, found it pretty boring. Not Appleby’s per se, but Cheshire generally. Trusty cheesemonger Ben at St. Paul’s talked me into trying it again, saying that this one was “special”.
I’m glad he spoke up.
The Cheshire this time around was still very mild, but this weekend’s wedge was richer, deeper, better acidity and with a slightly meaty, savory note that lingered, not unlike Roelli’s Red Rock.
I won’t revisit Appleby’s background/story of the cheese (an excerpt and link to details follows below) but I will modify my statement: this is not a bad cheese. It’s a subtle cheese, a modest cheese. One that needs to be placed strategically on a cheese board so as not to be bullied by strong flavors. It shines, still, melted/grilled/toasted. I won’t seek it out routinely but I have more respect now for the last of the old-world recipe Cheshire made today.
Appleby’s official “story” via Neal’s Yard. Excerpt:
“Appleby’s Cheshire is the last traditionally made, clothbound, unpasteurised Cheshire. Their style of cheesemaking is less acidic than most Cheshire, using smaller quantities of starter and is more likely to represent
the cheeses made on the farm a hundred years ago. A more acidic style of Cheshire developed in larger dairies and factories in the latter half of the last century.
Today the farm and dairy are managed by Edward and Christine Appleby, helped by their children Paul and Clare and daughter in law Sarah. They graze their herd of Friesian Holsteins on pastures planted with traditional
slow-growing grasses, which are fertilised using the manure from the farm. In addition, they are fed maize, wholecrop and grass silage. The silage, which has more dry matter than grass, helps the cows create more
fats and proteins in the milk, affecting the flavour and texture of the finished cheese. In addition to the feed they also aim to breed cows whose milk naturally has the balance of fat and protein they need. There is also an element of geographical luck too. The cows graze on the edge of the Cheshire plain beneath which are salt and mineral deposits. These come through in the grass and it is considered that they give the subtle, mineral flavours to the cheese.