Lyburn Winchester Old Extra Mature
Old Winchester or Old Smales (as it is sometimes known) is an older version of Winchester cheese with a delicious and nutty taste. It is a much harder and dryer cheese with signs of crystallisation adding to the uniqueness of this wonderful cheese. It is reminiscent of an old Dutch style gouda cheese with a distinctive nuttiness in flavour, however, it is a product of evolution. Angella Hartnett, who is Chef Patron for Murano Restaurant (amongst others) was asked her favourite cheese and chose Old Winchester as it “”It’s a nice cheese you can have on its own or with bread and chutney, or you can slice it really thin. It’s got a brilliant salty, crystalline crunch to it.”
Ingredients: Milk (Cow, Goat, Buffalo or Ewe’s Milk), Salt, Starter Culture, Rennet.
For allergens, please see ingredients.
Old Winchester or Old Smales (as it is sometimes known) is an older version of Winchester cheese with a delicious and nutty taste. It is a much harder and dryer cheese with signs of crystallisation adding to the uniqueness of this wonderful cheese. It is reminiscent of an old Dutch style gouda cheese with a distinctive nuttiness in flavour, however, it is a product of evolution.
The making of Old Winchester really came about due to the decline in milk prices in the 1980s. It was then the Smales family realised that more could done to increase the family fortunes and also make use of their valued milk.
Not having a clue how to make cheese, let alone an award winning one, Mike and Judy undertook a cheese making course with the much renowned Val Baines. They returned home and refurbished a porta-cabin with cheese making equipment.
Mike really didn’t want to make a cheese in the cheddar style but yearned for something rather different and headed towards a Gouda style cheese instead. The main reason for this was the close proximity of already established Cheddar cheese makers in the South West of England.
The first cheese the couple produced was Lyburn Gold, a supple and soft cheese which although delicious wasn’t quite what the locals wanted being so use to a cheddar style cheese. So, Mike decided to mature the cheese for longer, in fact 9 months longer and so Winchester cheese was born.
This new cheeses was well received but the locals still wanted a firmer cheese and so Mike decided to age the cheese for longer, this time for up to 18 months and called it Old Winchester.
The rest, as they say is history as this new cheese; “Old Winchester”, gave everybody what they wanted: the richness and sweetness of a cheddar, the grainy crystallisation of a Gouda and the feint, smokey tang of a Parmesan.
Each cheese is hand made by Mike and Judy Smales on the family farm at Landford, near to Salisbury, using milk from the families own herd of 180 cattle. Each morning the cattle are milked at 6 am and the milk is piped to the dairy where the cheese making team create their magic.
The making of Old Winchester follows the time honoured methods of making a Gouda style cheese. The 3000 litres of milk used for the cheese is quickly pasteurised and vegetarian rennet is added which allows the curds and whey to form. The curds, once cut, are washed which allows the lactic acid to drain away. This results in a sweeter and longer lasting cheese.
6kgs of curd is placed into a mould, the lid closed and 5 or 6 moulds are stacked one on top of another and then pressed overnight, This process gives the cheese its distinctive shape and ensures that the texture of the cheese is as dry as possible.
The following morning the cheeses are then washed in a brine bath and left to sit in the brine for about 24 hours, which allows the cheese to absorb some of the salt. After being dried off, they are stored in the farms maturation rooms and turned daily to develop their beautiful taste.
Old Winchester has slightly evolved since then to be what it is today. For the last few years the cheese-making has been under the guidance of talented cheese-maker, Paul Thomas whose background was one of biochemistry and who is responsible for the slight tweaks and changes to the cheese making it the utterly delicious cheese is is today.
Due to the vegetarian rennet, Old Winchester makes an ideal substitute for Parmesan cheese as not only is Old Winchester an ideal cheese on the cheeseboard but it also grates and shaves like an authentic Italian Parmesan cheese and delivers that same and much sought after taste.
Angella Hartnett, who is Chef Patron for Murano Restaurant (amongst others) was asked her favourite cheese and chose Old Winchester as it “”It’s a nice cheese you can have on its own or with bread and chutney, or you can slice it really thin. It’s got a brilliant salty, crystalline crunch to it.”
The milk is pasteurised and suitable for pregnant woman to eat, according to the NHS guidelines, and uses vegetarian rennet so is suitable for Vegetarians.
Phil Fanning of the Paris House, Woburn Abbey has a sumptuous recipe; Beef with courgettes, Jersey Royals and Old Winchester cheese.
Old Winchester is best at room temperature. Remove from the fridge when you open your bottle of wine; thus allowing the temperature of the cheese to slowly rise.
When you have finished. resist the temptation to wrap the cheese in cling film or place in an air tight container. Cheese needs to breathe or it will sweat. So rewrap in the wax paper your cheese monger used and place it in the crisper draw of your fridge. Cheese stored like this will keep for up to 14 days from the date it was cut by your cheesemonger. If some white blooming appears, it is totally natural, don’t be concerned, just remove it and enjoy the remainder of your Old Winchester.