Moist and supple texture with a light, citrus flavour.
Netherton Farm is part of the Duchy
of Cornwall Estate and has been home to Mike and Margaret Horrell
since the 1960s. The farm has always been principally a dairy
farm and twenty years ago it was suggested by the Duchy Estate
that the Horrells should consider adding value to their milk by
Mike and Margaret were introduced
to two Welsh cheese-makers, Alan and Jenny Gray. The intention
was to make a cheese with a Cornish character and Alan and Jenny
set to work on a thirteenth century cheese recipe. A cheese somewhere
between a cheddar and a Caerphilly was the result but with a distinctive
nettle-leaf coating. A Cornish-sounding name was given to the
cheese - 'Yarg'. This is in fact the makers' name 'Gray' spelt
backwards but it possessed the Cornish feel that was needed.
The Duchy of Cornwall Estate is a
very professional body and believes in being innovative and investing
in ambitious projects. Three years were spent installing expensive
new cheese-making facilities. The Grays had brought along their
own old cheese-vat but it became redundant before any cheese was
ever made. This was not going to be a small farm venture battling
with meagre funding but a larger commercial operation. Over the
next few years the herd grew to over 500 animals and so successful
was the marketing of this distinctive Cornish cheese that production
increased from three to five days a week. At this point the Grays
moved on and the Horrells continued with the help of a staff of
twelve. Recently a visitors' centre was opened at the farm and
it has become a popular tourist attraction.
All of the milk from the farm is
pasteurised. This is a necessity when taking milk from such a
large herd since contact with the animals cannot be as closely
monitored as with a small herd and the risk of undetected problems
is increased. Pasteurising also makes the final cheese more predictable
and reliable and although, perhaps not as exciting as matured
unpasteurised cheese this process is essential when contact time
with each cheese is limited.
Cornish Yarg is a moist cheese which
tastes fresh and creamy with a gentle tang. The cheeses are matured
for a minimum of three weeks but maturation can take up to two
months. During this time the crumbly paste becomes softer at the
edges and this texture then advances towards the centre. The flavour
becomes less tangy and more musty with age.
The nettles are edible but most people
tend to discard them. They are picked locally and are frozen until
needed. This is not only convenient but essential since the freezing
takes away the sting and causes the leaves to become limp and
easier to apply. The leaves are dipped into a sterilizing solution
and are then applied using a brush. It is believed that nettle
leaves were used originally because they prevented the cheese
from drying out too quickly and protected it from flies. Nettles
also grew in abundance and cost nothing.
Each cheese is approximately 25cm
in diameter, 7cm thick, weighs 3kg and has a fat content of 45%.
Smaller 1kg cheeses are also made but only the larger cutting
Cornish Yarg is stocked at the Teddington Cheese.