Overlooked by Northumberland’s picturesque Cheviot Hills and set in the Glendale valley, the North Doddington Farm is home to a herd of Friesian-Ayrshire cows and, for most of the year, the herd is able to graze on lush, clover-rich pastures. Neill Maxwell and James Kelly look after the cows and the herd produces highly flavoursome milk.
Maggie Maxwell attended Reaseheath Agricultural College, Nantwich, in the 90s after which she built on those studies by working abroad, with cheese manufacturers, in France and Holland. Maggie is still as passionate about the science and the magic of making cheese, just as she was all those years ago.
The cheese has a very distinctive appearance; with its hard and brownish, red rind making it stand out from other cheeses around it. Maggie developed Doddington, Cuddys Cave, Admiral Collingwood and Capability Brown cheeses. They all take their names from either local landmarks or noteworthy figures of the region.
Made 5 days a week and using approximately 2,000 litres of raw, unpasteurised milk, Maggie produces her range of cheeses. The milk is heated to 63 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes following which the starter and rennet is added. The curds and whey form.
The whey is drained away and the curds are cut and milled before being placed into Gouda shaped rounded moulds. As the cheese is a ‘hard pressed’ cheese, this means that the cheese is mechanically pressed for up to 3 days. The milling and the pressure allow as much moisture to escape as possible.
The cheeses are then left to mature on open pine shelves for up 24 months, allowing the cool and fresh Northumbrian air to circulate through the them. It’s during this time that the cheese develops its hard and distinctive brownish, red rind which, although is edible, is very chewy.
The paste or body of the cheese is bright and creamy rich and its texture resembles a cross between a Cheddar and a Leicester cheese. The cheese has the most wonderful grassy and rich taste, which is redolent of the farms surroundings.
Although the milk is unpasteurised it is still suitable for pregnant woman to eat, according to the NHS guidelines, but as it uses animal rennet it is not suitable for Vegetarians.
Doddington cheese has won many awards, including a prestigious gold, silver and bronze awards at the World Cheese Awards held in Spain in 2016.
It is a perfect alternative to a farmhouse Cheddar especially as it has a slightly salty, sweetness and crystalline texture giving a long finish.
It combines the umami flavour of a Cheddar and the smoother texture of a Leicestershire cheese making it a truly unique cheese, especially when accompanied by a Scottish oat cake or a water biscuit and perhaps a slice of quince paste or a Cheshire Chutney Co. Apple chutney.
The chef behind our Best UK Restaurant of 2019, Mark Birchall of Moor Hall has won plaudits for his Baked Carrots topped with freeze dried Doddington Cheese.
Doddington Cheese 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 Doddington Cheese.