By Diana Earnshaw, Volunteer Contributor
The variety of world cheeses available is staggering. However, the UK produces an impressive variety on its own. We are very fortunate that we have some fabulous cheeses being produced right on our doorstep!
Village Maid began their Artisan cheese-making company in a Spencers Wood, Berkshire garden shed in 1986! Since this time they have expanded and moved twice to their current home in Riseley. They produce four different cheeses including the Spenwood, Maida Vale and Wigmore, which True Food stock.
Spenwood is Pecorino-like, Wigmore is a mild creamy semi-soft cheese, and Maida Vale has a rind washed in local ale! All are made from unpasteurised milk – Spenwood and Wigmore from ewe’s milk and Maida Vale, tangy and creamy, from Channel Islands cow’s milk. Being unpasteurised means more beneficial enzymes and other nutrients, which are sometimes destroyed by the heat of pasteurisation. These cheeses are suitable for vegetarians as they use vegetable rennet.
Cheese is a valuable food. The belief that “saturated fat is harmful to health” has been debunked and it is now deemed to be safe (and even beneficial) to health. So we can consume cheese with the confidence that we are eating healthily. The nutrients are amazing. All the fat-soluble vitamins – A, D3, E and K2 – are there. The Waterloo in particular will have an abundance of vitamin A as it is made from Channel Islands raw milk. Channel Islands cows eat grass almost year-long and produce gorgeous rich milk, which has a characteristic deep yellow cream, showing the beta-carotene content. The yellower the better! Most of the B vitamins are also present, including the all-important B12, which is sometimes hard to source for vegetarians.
There are also an abundance of minerals. The milk used for Village Maid cheeses comes from animals living on organic pasture, which will always be mineral rich. Calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium will be plentiful.
These cheeses pack a nutritional punch supplying healthy fat, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein! For maximum nutrition, enjoy with just some celery, biscuits or grapes. But also try the recipes below, supplied by Village Maid:
For more information on Village Maid cheeses, please see their website.