Red Leicester can get a bad rep - supermarket versions are mass-produced flavourless cheeses that inspire very little. This is the cheese we get the biggest reaction from when we give it to someone to sample - it is not what they were expecting at all!
Sparkenhoe is so completely different to supermarket versions it's a crime to call them the same name! This is a Vintage Red Leicester aged for 18 months which gives the cheese a rich, powerful, long lasting flavour, exploding in your mouth. It has a salty crystalline crunch to it.
The characteristic deep orange colour comes from the addition of a natural plant dye, Annatto, taken from the Achiote tree found in South America.
This is a very traditional territorial cheese made to a traditional recipe using handmade methods and raw cow's milk. The Clarkes are dairy farmers whose families have been farming in the area for generations before them. David looks after the 150 strong herd of pedigree Holstein Friesian cows and 160 young. The cows are grass-fed and calving happens all year round to produce enough milk consistently all year. The milk is then pumped straight into the cheesemaking facility.
David's wife Jo runs the cheesemaking side of the business along with her son William who joined the family business in 2017.
Sparkenhoe is an old Leicestershire name meaning gorsey nob. It was the name given to the old medieval one hundred area and as the farm is situated in the middle of this area it was named Sparkenhoe Farm.
Sparkenhoe is the ONLY raw milk farmhouse made Red Leicester being made in Leicestershire!
As it is an older cheese, aged for longer there will be a higher incidence of veining.
Red Leicester is a good melting cheese so is a fantastic option for any cheesey bake such as Cauliflower Cheese. We love the sound of these Potato Gratins with Garlic & Red Leicester from Olive Magazine.
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