"Old world cheeses being recreated by a modern British maker in his own style" is how the founder of the British Cheese Awards describes Lyburn's medal winning cheeses. We ventured into The New Forest to find out more.
When we visited Lyburn Farm in The New Forest recently we found cheese maker Paul Thomas up to his elbows in curd, and the dairy dripping with a fresh haul of medals from this year’s British Cheese Awards.
Lyburn started making cheese ten years ago, when proprietors Mike and Judy Smales decided to adopt a continental approach to their cheese production with Lyburn Gold, Winchester and Old Winchester being made in the gouda style. And like goudas they range from the sweet, young, soft and milder cheese (Lyburn Gold) to harder more mature cheeses (Winchester and Old Winchester) with a more pronounced flavour. Old Winchester (known as Old Smales in the USA) is matured for 14-16 months resulting in an intensely flavoured hard cheese with a slightly brittle, crystalline texture. It has been likened to an English Parmesan and as it’s made with vegetarian rennet is a popular alternative for vegetarians, most Italian hard cheeses being made with animal rennet.
The yellowedge cheese shop has one vegetarian regular customer who always pops some Old Winchester into her bag when dining at Italian restaurants! Lyburn Gold is also available smoked (proper smoking too, over oak chips, not the addition of a ‘smoke flavour’ used in so many mass produced smoked cheeses) and in a version with garlic and nettles. The newest addition to the Lyburn family, Stoney Cross, is a mould ripened cheese and continues the continental theme being similar in style to a French Tomme de Savoie with a sweet, earthy flavour. All the milk used to make Lyburn’s cheeses comes from their own herd of Fresians who supply around 1700 litres for each batch of handmade cheeses.
As for the gongs, both Stony Cross and the Winchester have just collected gold medals at the 2010 British Cheese Awards to add to an already bulging trophy cabinet.. Juliet Harbutt, founder of the awards and the British Cheese Festival, told Lovefood “Lyburn’s cheeses are a classic example of old world cheeses being recreated by a modern British maker in his own style, here with a New Forest twist.”
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