Over the past few years we were working with Eamonn Lonergan of Knockanore in the development of a new cheese. The name ‘15 Fields’ originates from the pastures on which the cows graze, the 15 fields. The cheese is made by traditional cheddar methods using Eamonn’s raw milk and vegetarian rennet. Production of 15 Fields is limited from about May to October because the cheese is only made when the cows are out on pasture.
Knockanore CowsEamonn makes a full batch for us and a day later sends the new cheeses up to the warehouse at Virgina Road Station. The warehouse manager , Mark Booker ,then takes over the care and maturation of the cheese. The process involves covering the cheeses in a thin breathable layer of coating. This coating stops the cheeses drying out too fast while allowing moisture to escape over the maturing period. The rind then develops its character forming moulds and yeasts which benefit the flavour development.We had thought that the cheese would need to be matured for 12 months but the 8 month cheese has come on really well and the flavour is fully developed. Maturation takes place on wooden exquisite boards, the majority of which were used to mature Glebe Brethan.
Maturing Cloth and lard have been used for centuries as clever ways to protect maturing cheeses in the damp climates of the UK and Ireland, as a side effect they allow the development of a rind which imparts an extra dimension of flavour and aroma in the cheese. With the introduction of plastics the cloth rind was abandoned in almost all cheddar production in favour of the more efficient thick plastic covering sealed by vacuum. Unfortunately this method does not allow moisture to escape during maturation which negatively affects the texture of the cheese. It also does not allow for the development of any rind resulting in many modern cheeses lacking that extra layer of flavour and aroma. We examined the functionality behind the traditional packaging methods and combined them with the benefit of modern technology to produce a coating which is easy and efficient to apply yet allows for the advantages of a breathable rind
The combination of great raw milk from the Lonergan farm, Eamon’s skills as a cheesemaker and the maturation in the microclimate of our maturing room produces a cheddar style cheese that has a compact but not overly dry texture and a clean long flavour, incorporating gentle acidity, with earthy and sweet flavours and aromas. 15 Fields combines all of the elements which we feel are of upmost importance in farmhouse cheesemaking. With raw milk from a single farm created by a great cheesemaker. The cheddar takes on flavours and aromas unique to its environments in production and maturation.