Have a go at… meeting our local producers
Last week, we enjoyed an evening of tutored cheese tasting at the Welbeck Farm Shop, with Joe Schneider, one half of the partnership behind Stichelton; a raw milk cheese produced on the Welbeck Estate using traditional farmhouse methods.
The evening consisted of an informal talk by cheesemaker Joe, with his audience sat in a theatre style format. Delicious local produce was provided to compliment the evening, including ale from Welbeck Brewery, artisanal loaves from the Welbeck Bakehouse and savoury treats courtesy of the Welbeck Farm shop. It is fair to say we were well looked after throughout.
The story of Stichelton cheese is one of passion and rebellion, the perfect example of true Nottinghamshire spirit fuelled by grit and determination.
It was by no accident that American cheesemaker Joe Schneider made the decision to settle in Nottinghamshire. Notts is one of just three counties (alongside Derbyshire & Leicestershire) legally entitled to produce Stilton cheese. Even Stilton, a village in Cambridgeshire isn’t allowed to produce cheese under the esteemed ‘Stilton’ moniker.
Cheese Fact! Did you know? ‘Stichelton’ is the Anglo-Saxon name for Stilton.
Joe’s passion for Stichelton is fuelled by the desire to produce Stilton cheese using the traditional ingredient of raw milk and artisanal methods practised for generations. Joe and collaborative partner Randolph Hodgson are both enthusiastic campaigners, fighting for a U-turn on the current law (passed in 1989) which stipulates that Stilton must be made using pasteurised milk.
A group of only five employees (and 135 Friesian Holsteins) work tirelessly throughout the year to produce 55 tonnes of Stichelton cheese. It is sold locally at the Welbeck Farm Shop, and reaches as far as San Francisco (the Americans are currently showing partiality to traditional English cheeses).
Joe talked the audience through the process of making Stichelton from vat to hoop, offering the opportunity for keen members of the audience to ask questions. His knowledge for the subject shone, supported by a light-hearted demeanor which gave the talk a less formal feel, and made for some interesting listening.
“Where is the best place to store your cheese?” one eager audience member cried,
“In your belly” Joe fired back, creating a ripple of laughter across the farm shop floor.
It is clear that Joe believes wholeheartedly in his product, and was happy to share generous samples with the audience.
Stichelton can best be described as a soft, creamy texture, which Joe puts down to the use of raw milk. Joe’s personal preference is for ‘less blue’, and this is all controlled during the production stages.
His best interests truly lie with his audience, as the determination to produce a quality raw milk cheese stems from the desire to give something back to the area.
We came out of the talk leaving with the encouraging knowledge of how one small corner of Nottinghamshire is leaving such an impression on the cheese industry, and creating a legacy for local produce made the traditional way.
In Nottinghamshire, we love our local produce. You can purchase Stichelton, at Welbeck Farm Shop. A whole cheese will sell for £135. Stichelton would compliment any festive cheese board. The cheese is also available to enjoy in delicious lunches, across the courtyard, as part of the Lime House Cafe menu.
Look out for similar events at Welbeck Farm Shop throughout the year, as artisans share their expertise and produce with you. The Welbeck Events calendar is constantly updated with events from butchery demos to baking.