Greens of Glastonbury, Somerset
Cheese making was well underway when I met Richard Green at Redlake Dairy. The Greens have been making cheese on this site since 1920 when Hubert Green and Kathleen Dunkerton married. Kathleens skills making cheese were put to good use turning the excess milk produced on the farm into cheddar cheese. Three generations of Greens have continued to make cheese since.
They use cheese from the various family farms within a five mile radius of the dairy. On Fridays they make organic cheese with milk from the farm right next door. The dairy as well as that particular farm are fully organic certified. For ease of identification everything to do with organic cheese is in green labels, paperwork, everything. The entire cheese production made at Redlake is pasteurised but they continue with a little unpasteurised cheese which is made under contract at a nearby dairy in Ditcheat. Anything to do with the unpasteurised cheese is marked in red. About 95% of the cheese made by Greens now goes to Waitrose and Sainsburys with whom they have long standing and good relationships. The supermarkets will not allow unpasteurised cheese to be made in the same dairy as pasteurised, hence the arrangement with a contract cheese maker.
The family is investing in a new store room, offices, shower and toilet facilities but they are keen to maintain production at its current level and to be truly artisan made.
One cheese maker starts at 3am and starts the pasteurisation process, another starts a little later and unpacks the cheeses in the press from the previous day, wraps them in cloth and puts them back in the press for another 24 hours or so.
After 2 to 3 days of pressing at increasing pressure the truckles are removed and taken to the store room where they mature for a number of months and develop the traditional rind associated with artisan made cheese.
There were four men milling and salting the curd as I visited. The curd had already been cut and piled. They work together as a true team, but Richard said they liked to keep the same person on the same job to assist in the consistency of the final cheese. They then loaded the curd into the lined plastic moulds. The moulds are unique to Greens and are made in France with thousands of very small holes in contrast to the traditional aluminium or steel moulds with a limited number of holes through which the whey drains.
The truckles are laid in the press, pressure applied and slowly increased so more and more whey exudes. They are removed from the presses and moved to the ripening rooms for a period of months before dispatch to the customer.
It is a fascinating process and one which the Greens hold dear.