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Quicke's Oak Smoked Cheddar

from £7.91

The Quicke family from Devon has been making cheese on the same farm just north of Exeter for over 450 years! All their cheddar is matured slowly, wrapped in muslin cloth, to develop a real depth and complexity of flavour. For the smoked cheddar they start with a well-flavoured cheddar matured for 12-15 months. The truckles are cut into 1.5kg pieces - to ensure that the flavour infuses right through the cheese - and then smoked over oak shavings for 3-4 hours.

Pasteurised. Uses vegetarian alternative to rennet, but maturing cheeses are wrapped in muslin coated with lard.

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Quicke's cheese definitely counts as 'artisan', i.e hand-made, but in terms of the people we deal with, they're also one of the larger concerns, with up to 400 tons of cheddar being made each year, and a staff of around ten. The first time I looked into their biggest cheese store was quite a jaw-dropping moment, row after row of huge racks with hundreds of huge 15 kilo chedars slowly maturing. Quite a sight!

When Sir John Quicke and his wife Prue started making cheddar in the early 70s, really traditional cheese making in this country was perhaps at its lowest ebb.

The Quickes instinctively went for the old methods and cloth-wrapped truckles rather than the rindless blocks emerging from big industrial creameries, with a 500-strong dairy herd providing the milk.

Today the firm is under the leadership of John and Prue's daughter Mary, whose focus is on the business of making 'world class cheese'. In The Cheese Shed we stock her 18 month old Extra Mature Cheddar, 2 year Vintage and Oak-Smoked Cheddar, as well as Double Devonshire and a very nice firm goat's cheese. In addition there's a Red Leicester and an interesting elderflower flavoured cheddar.