Selecting and Maturing Cheese
Once the cheese arrives at The Courtyard Dairy, that’s not the end of the story: the whole shop is specially equipped to age cheese. Owner Andy Swinscoe has a background working for some of the top cheesemongers in the UK, and a French apprenticeship in ‘affinage’ (cheese ageing), having been awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship for ‘Cheese Maturing’.
So how is cheese matured?
To ensure it is enjoyed at its best, each cheese has it own special maturing requirements, from the environment it is kept in (different humidities, temperatures, and the materials it is stored on) to its day-to-day care such as turning, brushing and washing.
For example, the Langres at The Courtyard Dairy are taken young and held at a high humidity and mild temperature, then regularly washed in Marc de Bourgogne, which breaks down the cheese, providing a richer more-developed flavour. The Dale End Cheddars truckles are matured on site in a specific environment, on traditional spruce wood boards, and regularly brushed. Their maturity is regularly tested using a cheese ‘iron’, and when deemed at its peak, the Cheddar is released for sale (usually around 18-months old).
More information on ageing and maturing cheese (affinage) can be found on the Learn About Cheese pages.