Smart's Traditional Gloucester Cheese, Gloucestershire
Diana greeted me with a welcoming smile when I drove into the farmyard at Smarts Traditional Gloucestershire Cheese. Rod, one of the four Smart brothers, now runs the farm and helps makes the cheese, ably assisted by Gary. The dairy was purpose built some eighteen years ago when the cheese business came to the farm. They make approximately 170 lb of cheese twice a week, either Single or Double Gloucester. Since 1997 Single Gloucester can only be made in Gloucestershire and the makers must own at least one Old Gloucester cow. This has served to preserve the cheese and the artisan cheese makers who produce it today. Diana uses her own skill as a cheese maker rather than modern technical gadgets to judge each stage of the process. She took a handful of curd and squeezed it firmly before shaking it out again. The curd crumbled and she knew it was time to let the whey drain. After milling and salting the curd is packed in cheesecloths which comprise of old sheets that have been thoroughly boiled and do the job just as well as expensive blue cloths you have to buy!
There is one more cheese, rather like Parmesan, which Diana keeps for her regular Farmers market customers. It is called 'Harefield' and is made like a Single Gloucester but matured for at least a year. I think, with a bit of luck I might persuade her to let Cheese Club members try it too!