We're taking a look at a classic Yorkshire cheese this week - Swaledale.
This cheese has it's roots way back in the 11th century. We're talking ancient times, when Cistercian monks whipped up the original cheese recipe using sheep's milk. These guys were like the OG cheese creators, passing down their cheesy secrets to the locals of Swaledale.
As time rolled on, the recipe evolved and changed. They started mixing things up with different types of milk – cows and goats joined the party, adding their own flavour vibes.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and things hit a bit of a rough patch. Cheesemaking in Swaledale - as in the rest of the UK - took a nosedive, and by 1980, only one farm was holding down the cheese fort. Longstaff Farm, kept producing the cheese, with Marjorie Longstaff handing over the reins to the the Reed family in 1987.
David and Mandy Reed continued making Swaledale, and in 1996 they secured two PDOs covering cows' and sheeps' milk versions of the cheese.
David Reed died suddenly in 2005, and his wife Mandy died in a tragic accident in 2012. Their children Sam and Louise continued the business until 2015, and it was then sold to The Swaledale Cheese Company in 2019. They moved production from Richmond to Leyburn, and so had to revoke the PDO statuses of the cheese.
The cheese itself is a creamy, slightly crumbly cow's milk cheese. It is wrapped in cloth and matured for around 8 months until it's ready to eat. It has soft, creamy flavour notes, and has slightly less astringent flavours than a Wensleydale.
Every bite of Swaledale Cheese is like a taste of history, a nod to the people who've kept the Swaledale story alive and kicking. So, next time you dig into that Swaledale goodness, remember, you're savouring more than just cheese – you're tasting a slice of a seriously epic journey.
Grab yourself a slice of Swaledale here!