What is artisan cheese and how is it different from what I buy at the supermarket?

Artisan cheese usually refers to cheese made by hand using the traditional methods of skilled cheesemakers. Artisan cheeses are often made with milk from a single herd of animals rather than multiple sources which is what you might find in a supermarket, in our case this is our herd of Aryshire cows in Dumfriesshire. The process of the cheesemaking is generally slower and more labour intensive than which generally results in a richer flavoured cheese.

Should I keep cheese in the fridge?

Yes cheese should be refrigerated, best kept to the bottom of your fridge and wrapped tightly to prevent loss of moisture. To bring out the full flavour of your cheese it is best to be served at room temperature to bring out it’s full flavour. We recommend taking the cheese out of the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

What makes our milk so special?

Aryshire cows are known to be high yielding animals which means they produce a decent volume of milk that contains high levels of solids (goodness). The milk from our Aryshire cows contains a high percentage of butterfat and protein that is in just the right ratio for cheese making which is what makes our cheese taste so good. Unlike many of the larger cheese makers we don’t take any of the cream off our milk before cheese making so all our products have a creamy rich taste. It is also important to add that whilst Ayrshires are known for their milk quality this comes at a price, they need to be very well looked after and this means plenty of good quality fodder, a superb environment and expert knowledge in herdsmanship and breeding.

Where does our milk come from?

Mark is our farmer and the 4th generation of Callanders to farm at Crofthead, in Dumfriesshire Scotland and has spent the last 20 years developing and nurturing his Ayrshire herd with great skill and expertise to produce the best possible milk from which our cheese is made.

Should I microwave my brie to make it runny?

You can microwave brie to make it runny however it is very easy to over cook which can result int he cheese separating and becoming oily. At cows and co we prefer to bake our brie till its lovely and gooey and great for sharing check out our baked brie recipe for a serving suggestion.

How is our cheese made?

Three of our four products; Creamy Brie, Smoked Brie and Scottish Blue are made in a similar way using the same equipment, these are the soft cheeses, they contain a higher level of moisture and are not subjected to heating in the vat to expel moisture or to pressing overnight like the Vintage Cheddar which is a hard cheese.

The process for soft cheese begins with the milk being pasteurised or heat treated at 72C for 15 seconds to kill all pathogens, the vats are filled and a starter culture is added to start the ripening process where lactose, a natural milk sugar is fermented into Lactic acid. The next stage is to add the vegetarian rennet, this sets the milk and it develops the texture of a blancmange, it is then cut by hand into cubes about the size of an Oxo cube and is then allowed to rest and continue the ripening process. It is stirred at regular intervals until it is ready to tip into moulds which allow the whey to drain from the curd. The moulds are turned throughout the day to ensure good drainage and then left overnight. In the morning the cheeses are removed from their moulds and placed on wire racks before soaking in a brine solution for up to two hours. Within about 10 days at 14C the white mould will develop and the cheeses are wrapped in special paper that allows them to ‘breathe’ they will be ready for sale at 3-4 weeks and at their best after about 7 weeks.

The process for hard cheese follows the first few steps as for soft cheese, but it is cut by mechanical knives rather than by hand and then heated up using a hot water jacket on the vat. After the whey has been drained off and depending on the recipe, the curd is then manually cut, stacked, piled or pulled apart etc. Once this process is complete the cheese is milled and salted to ensure good distribution of salt and then put into moulds where it is pressed overnight prior to packing in vacuum bags for storage for up to 18 months.

Who makes our cheese?

Our cheesemaker is called Maurice he currently produces a range of cheese from the creamery in Appleby, Cumbria in the North of England. His expertise and experience combined with the highest quality ingredients makes the Cows and Co cheese an amazing range of products which we are hugely proud of and we know you will enjoy.