Caerphilly cheese - a crumbly sensation

Food & Drink

Caerphilly cheese - a crumbly sensation

Caerphilly cheese is a hard, crumbly Welsh white cheese that originated in the area around the town of Caerphilly, Wales. Some say it was initially created to provide local miners with a nourishing and affordable source of sustenance.

The history of Caerphilly cheese dates back to the late 19th century. It reputedly originated on the Wentlooge Levels - a lush wetland area on the north banks of the Severn estuary - between Cardiff and Newport.

In 1881, there were 94 farms in the area, ranging from just a few acres to over 150 acres. The rich grassland of the Levels made them eminently suitable for milk production.

During the summer months particularly, these farms, some with only two or three cows, were producing more milk than could be used locally and the surplus was made into cheese and sold.

Local cheesemakers developed a cheese with a shorter maturation period than traditional cheddar.

Cheese from these farms was taken to the nearby Caerphilly Cheese Fair to sell to the miners who did not like to take meat down the mine, and the cheese became known as Caerphilly.

The cheese-making process involves curdling cow's milk using rennet, pressing the curds, and subsequently coating the cheese with a protective layer of lard and ash. This unique technique contributes to its crumbly texture and distinctive, slightly tangy flavor.

Over the years, Caerphilly cheese has evolved from a regional specialty to an internationally acclaimed cheese, appreciated for its unique characteristics.

Today it has protected food-name status: 'Caerphilly' refers to cheese made to a specific composition and standard, although as an artisanal product, it contains individual and small variations. It is a hard cheese made in Wales from milk produced on Welsh farms and is the country's only native cheese.

Despite facing challenges like industrialisation and changing consumer preferences, the tradition of crafting Caerphilly cheese persists, showcasing the resilience and adaptability of this historic Welsh delicacy.

Further reading

Cheese-making on the Wentlooge Levels

Links to external websites are not maintained by Bite Sized Britain. They are provided to give users access to additional information. Bite Sized Britain is not responsible for the content of these external websites.