Yielding texture, with a multi-layered gentle flavour
Stonebeck cheese offers a glimpse into the historic cheese past of the Yorkshire Dales. Quite unlike its modern-day Wensleydale counterparts, Stonebeck is made to a much slower hands-on recipe. It is made seasonally (only spring-autumn when the cows are out at pasture) with milk from the Northern Dairy Shorthorn, a native breed of cow fed on the diverse pasture and wildflower hay meadows that abound in the area.
The end result at three months old is a gentle cheese that has a rich, long, complex and multi-layered flavour, with a pliant-yet-crumbly texture.
Made by Andrew and Sally Hattan in Middlesmoor, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.
More about this
Andrew and Sally Hatton farm a remote upland farm at the far end of Nidderdale. Their 460-acre farm is on tough marginal land, and extremely remote, which brings challenges as well as advantages. Their pasture is well suited to diverse herbal and floral grasses, as no species will dominate in the challenging conditions, and on part of their farm they have restored and improved several traditional wildflower hay meadows. These diverse and varied grasses impart a rich flavour to their milk and cheese.
With the farm being difficult to get to, it is laborious to bring additional feed in, so Andrew and Sally chose a native rare breed that is traditional to the area and could thus adapt well: the Northern Dairy Shorthorn. This hardy little cow can survive the upland wet and cold and manage with the short grass-growing season. Although the breed doesn’t produce much milk, what it lacks in quantity is made up for in quality, being incredibly rich and flavoursome.
With only 15 milking cows, they farm 10% of the entire world population of Northern Dairy Shorthorn. Farming with the seasons, the cows are calved in the spring then put out to grass and milked just once per day in spring, summer and early autumn. Stonebeck cheese is made using this fresh raw milk. The cheese is made to a recipe traditional to the area, which evolved from ancient Wensleydale recipe booklets from the 1920s and 1930s (quite different from today’s recipe), archive photographs of cheese-makers, and interviews with the then 101-year-old Mrs Peacock, a famous retired local cheese-maker.
Following this slower, more hands-on method, Stonebeck is pressed overnight and has cloth sewn onto the outside, before being matured for 2-5 months.
Find out more about their farm in this article: Choosing the right cow breed: a case study of Low Riggs Farm.
This product will have two weeks’ shelf life from the date of delivery. Conveniently, at checkout you can choose a delivery date even well in the future if you would like your cheese delivering for a specific event.