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vegetarian

Old Burford

£6.60

The Bartlett brothers' run their own sheep farm at North Wootton near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Little Ryding is made with their own organic milk.

But ewes' milk isn't available all year. so they also make this 250g mould-ripened cheese with organic Jersey cows' milk.  Firmer when young, it develops a squishy (their word, not mine!) texture after about 3½ weeks.

Organic / Unpasterised / Vegetarian.

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Wootton Organic Dairy

Campaigners for 'real cheese' in the 1990s were looking above all for unpasteurised cheese, with its greater depth and complexity of flavour. They also pointed out that there was a shortage of organic cheeses. Today, in the hamlet of North Wootton near Shepton Mallet in Somerset, brothers David and James Bartlett make four great cheeses which tick both of these boxes.

On the family farm, with its slopes looking across to Glastonbury Tor, they initially produced organic ewes' milk for sale, before taking over a cheese recipe from renowned maker Mary Holbrook. This was the small mould-ripened (and unpasteurised) Little Ryding. Wootton Organic Dairy was born.

Later, cheese no. 2 was brought in. Old Burford is another soft cheese - with the same downy white rind - but this time made with bought-in organic Jersey cows' milk.

The specially creamy quality of that milk makes lovely cheese (as anyone who has tried Sharpham Rustic will know).

The most recent additions, around 2004, were two hard cheeses, Millstone (ewe) and Ringwell (cow - Jersey milk again). Made using an essentially similar recipe, these are hard-ish, dry-ish, and crumbly - in the case of the former. They mature for about 5 months and feature especially beautiful rinds, in terms of both texture and colour.

The Bartletts haven't gone the obvious route. Unpasteurised, organic ewes' milk cheese could be described as a niche within a niche within a niche! But when I visited in October 2009, David told me there was more interest all the time, so the no-compromise approach was obviously paying off. Sometimes you just have to go with your instincts!