Traditional cheese maker shows maturity counts

West Country cheese maker Barber’s has launched a new brand of extra vintage Cheddar that is aged for two years before reaching the shelves.

It is called 1833 – the year the Barber family moved to Maryland Farm, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset – and uses Cheddar’s traditional starter cultures.

The family has even set up its own laboratory to protect the local cultures from the growing popularity of mass-produced freeze-dried alternatives.

Giles Barber said:

“We want to educate the market about traditional cheese cultures and why they need protection.

They are a vital part of making the flavour and character of the finished cheese.”

The family runs several farms totalling more than 1012ha (2500 acres) with as many Holstein Friesians, whose milk is blended with that of other local farms and made into 9500t of Cheddar a year, mostly sold as supermarket own-label.

Only two tonnes of the new 1833 cheese is made each month and it will be sold under the Barber brand to independent stores, delis and farm shops, said Mr Barber.

It will sell at the farm gate for about £6/kg and retail at £12/kg.

And despite the premium price, it is already proving popular.

Launched last week at Britain’s biggest food fair, Food and Drink Expo in Birmingham, some 30 shops are interested.

Jonathon Lynn, a wholesaler and owner of Tastebuds Deli in Lincs said he would be stocking the cheese.

“You can’t buy it in the multiples, which is just what people want.”