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Being born a Lancashire Lass I have been brought up eating Lancashire Cheese, it was always there and I consider it the best cheese ever for Rarebit or cheese and pickle sandwiches. (Or as we call them round here, butties.)
It's a versatile cheese. It's open texture means it melts easily for a smooth cheese sauce. It gives a nice sharp contrast with a slice of fruit cake or apple pie. It stays fresh in sandwiches for your packed lunch and it's just delicious as part of a ploughman's lunch at the local pub. If you are making Welsh Rarebit with it add a little bit of mustard to bring the tang out. Or just slice it onto your bread and toast it.
I didn't know there were different types until one day I was in Preston market and I asked the local cheese maker and marketer for half a pound.
"Dost tha' want tasty, crumbly or creamy?" She boomed at me from behind her stall. I was a bit nonplussed because in my experience Lancashire cheese was all three.
"What dost tha' want it for?"
I thought if I answered "To eat it of course!" I might get a swipe from one of her meaty hands. I stood there looking puzzled and her husband took pity on me. "Is it for toasting or pieces?" ('pieces' is yet another word for sandwiches.)
"Cheese on toast!" I replied, glad to be able to say something intelligent.
"Tha must want Creamy then!"
And that's what I got. Very good it was too!
When I got home I looked it up on the net.
Creamy Lancashire is matured for three to four months. It is fluffier, more moist and milder tasting.
Tasty Lancashire is matured longer, between four and seven months and is better for the cheeseboard because it has a sharper taste.
Crumbly Lancashire is the only one allowed to be made outside of Lancashire. It is found in most supermarkets and tends to be milder in taste. And of course it is crumbly! It is generally only matured for a month or so.
There are records of Lancashire cheese being shipped down to London from the 13 century.
It is made by adding curds from successive days milk yields. Obviously there were no fridges then and often the small farms didn't produce enough milk to make a whole cheese at once. This mixing of the curds is what gives the Lancashire Cheese it's taste and crumbliness.
The Lancashire you can get in the supermarkets always tastes good. It retails for about £3.50 to £4.50 per pound.
But.........The Lancashire cheese you can buy freshly made in Lancashire shops and Markets is unbeatable for taste and value. If you are ever round this way make a point of buying some fresh Farmhouse Lancashire Cheese and savour the difference!
There are so many things, that us talented Lancastrians can do, make cheese is just another of them! Mrs Kirkham, is one of the widely recognised, conisitent cheese makers. She works on a small farm, she maintains the traditional way of making lancashire, combining curd from three days worth of milking instead of just one. This results in a more complex taste than ordinary varieties, typically found in supermarkets. Although Lancashire is not a strong cheese, it has the right crumbly texture, which reminds me of firm scrambled eggs. It also has a sharp lactic tang, and is excellent for sandwiches, salads and melting. You can purhcase it at wwww.Lobster.co.uk, the Harrods Food Hall of cyberspace. Also at some Sainsbury's stores.
A white, lightly crumbly cheese with lots of flavour without being too strong. It goes well in sandwiches and salads and is pleasantly mild. A versatile cheese that lends itself to all sorts of things. I like it best in a sandwich with fruity pickly. You can get Lancashire cheese from any supermarket, but if you can, try to find a traditional cheesemaker - there are cheese shops dotted about all over the place, and the differences between mass produced cheeses and expertly made ones can be amazing - you will have to pay more, but if you are a cheese fanatic, its well worth it.