Michael Eavis visits the Maturing Store
- Written by Abi Wilson
With great excitement we welcomed Michael Eavis to our maturing store last week.
Michael undertook the role of Cheese Grader for the morning – sampling cores taken from 20kg blocks of Worthy Farm Reserve Cheddar which we make using the milk from Michael’s dairy herd. He was in good company with our Master Cheese grader Di Cox & our MD and third generation cheesemaker, Richard Clothier in tow.
All the wooden boxes you can see behind Michael, Di and Rich have a block of cheddar maturing inside – there are around 10,000 tonnes in the store at any given time. That’s a lot of cheddar but for good reason. On average, people in the UK eat 30 grams of cheese a day & as the nation’s favourite variety you can be sure Cheddar makes up a good chunk of that! Despite it being the most common cheese found in people’s fridges it doesn’t make it easy to produce. Cheddar can require up to 18 months to reach its peak flavour profile & that means regular grading sessions throughout the week. Di eats *a lot* of cheese.
Worthy Cheddar is no different, taking over a year to achieve the rich, creamy and flavoursome profile it is known for.
So, what do we look for when grading & how is it done? Grading is a traditional method. A ‘cheese iron’ is used to inspect an extracted core of the cheddar to test the smell & flavour. The curd texture is also assessed – breaking off a piece of the core and rubbing it between the fingers to determine how the curd is breaking down; from this we can predict if or how long until the block is ready to go. Experience really comes in to play here!
Michael may have been new to grading but cheesemaking runs in his family – his grandfather was making Caerphilly cheese on Worthy Farm in the early part of the 20th century.
‘’About 100 years ago, my grandfather decided to make the milk at Worthy Farm into Caerphilly cheese. He secured a good price from the Welsh coal miners, bought the first lorry around here and delivered it once a week to the coal pits. This trade made him quite rich and powerful. But the general strike in 1926 ended all of that. He had to mortgage the farm and close the cheese production down. He converted his AC car (equivalent to the Aston Martin of today) into a horse drawn cart and called it a ‘Dofunny.’ This vehicle took the kids to school and went on weekly shopping trips to Glastonbury. Now 100 years later, after 50 years of recent festival history, Worthy Farm milk is being made into cheese again by Wyke Farms and the finest reserve cheddar selected for Worthy Farm packs – what a comeback!’’
It’s been such a pleasure to bring Worthy Cheddar to shelves with Michael. Our shared passion for sustainable farming & commitment to producing the highest quality cheddar are all things that make our partnership a natural fit.
Aside from its long history in dairy, Worthy Farm is also home to The Glastonbury Festival. 2022 will see its return for the first time in three years & unsurprisingly tickets are sold out. However, every pack of Worthy Farm Reserve Cheddar gives the unique opportunity to win a pair of highly coveted tickets. As if cheese wasn’t enough to get excited about!
It was great having Michael visit. With 10,000 tonnes to take care of, perhaps a more permanent role on Di’s grading team could be on the cards…
Worthy Farm Reserve Cheddar is available now exclusively in Co-op stores.