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In the New Forest at Lyburn Farm, Mike and Judie Smales have created a modern British classic cheese – Old Winchester.
As milk prices fell, Mike and Judie decided they needed an outlet for the milk from their 180 British Friesian cows. Deciding to make cheese, they went on a one-day Cheddar-making course with Val Bines. With this basic knowledge the Smales decided to make a Gouda-style (the curd is washed so the cheese ends up slightly more sweet): “When we started to make cheese twelve years ago, we deliberately chose not to make Cheddar for all the obvious reasons, not least there are already quite a lot of them. So we started with a Gouda-style recipe.”
Yet it turned out a bit different from expected. But not every mistake is bad! Instead, the amazing Old Winchester was born: a cross between Gouda, Parmesan and Cheddar. At the Courtyard Dairy it is aged for 18-months to give it a sweet, tangy, crystallised depth. (It is also known as Old Smales).
As well as a great ‘table cheese’ Old Winchester works incredibly well as a vegetarian Parmesan replacement as it is made without animal rennet, you will often find chefs using it for vegetarian dishes.