Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A visit to Dewlay - Lancashire cheese makers

Dewlay shop and museum at Garstang in Lancashire.
Last Monday we had a great morning out at Dewlay Cheese makers in Lancashire, and here lies a bit of a tale. After submitting a photograph to the Visit Lancashire facebook page for a 'say cheese for Lancashire day' my photograph was picked out by Jodie Prenger as the winning snap and my prize was £100 to spend in the Dewlay shop in Garstang. If I tell you this was one of the very few things I have ever won I am not kidding readers, I never win a sausage. I was so delighted to win anything at all, but really pleased with this particular food related prize, and the opportunity to go up to Garstang, to that great rural Lancashire cheese triangle (I made that up, its not really a 'cheese triangle' but there are several Lancashire cheese makers in that area) and to learn more about Dewlay and how they make Lancashire cheeses.

The first thing that strikes you when you visit Dewlay, after the huge wind turbine outside, is the smell of fresh cheese being made. We had a tour of the viewing gallery, and on the day we visited they were making crumbly Lancashire, Red Leicester and Garstang blue cheeses. The gallery overlooks the cheese production area and Conor Daunt from Dewlay gave us a verbal account of how the cheeses are made, the history to the family business, the awards won by Dewlay and how they are moving forward in terms of sustainable energy, and even recycling the water they use. This might be an old Lancashire traditional cheese product (the starter culture used began over 40 years ago) but the technology is current.
Still winning awards for cheese after a number of years, and proud of it too.
Just some of the interesting facts I learned last week...I'm a cheese expert now...ask me anything about Lancashire cheese...anything!
  • The milk comes from cows nearby (5miles radius) and the local land is renowned for being good grazing land for cattle, the soil (damp), the climate (damp), the grass (green and damp), did I mention damp there? (at least there are some benefits to the Lancashire climate after all!) all help make for contented grazing cattle and good milk production too.
  • Dewlay supply cheese to Lancashire schools, if your kids are at school in Lancashire they are likely to be eating this cheese made from local milk etc.
  • Dewlay has PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) standard for their cheese. This means its regional, local and made in a traditional way. 
  • This is third generation of Dewlay cheese makers, the business was started by the current brothers grandfather George Kenyon in 1957. It *might* just a bit older than me but "age is not important unless you are a cheese".
  • Lancashire cheese is a 2 day curd cheese recipe and its made this way for years. The curds are cut by machine and turned by hand, bruised curds does not maketh good Lancashire cheese!
  • Which Lancashire cheese you prefer depends on taste, but some are more mature and therefore more creamy, younger cheeses more crumbly and stronger flavour. 
  • Dewlay cheese is sold in supermarkets nationwide, lots of local Lancashire markets, a Kosher range is made under strict standards, the cheeses are suitable for coeliacs and vegetarians and the cheese is shipped worldwide.
As well as the viewing gallery the site houses a small modern 'cheese making museum' with cheese artefacts and information about the history of Lancashire cheese making (there is a nominal admission charge for the museum and gallery AND if you want to see cheese being made you need to go between 09.30 and 11.30am weekdays only). Guided tours are extra, if you are thinking of taking your local WI group along.
Artefacts from cheese making days gone by.
The shop was our last stop after our tour and here you can buy all the Dewlay products and everything to go with cheese you can think of, from cheese slates and boards, chutneys and pickles to fruit cheeses, biscuits, wine and local Lancashire ciders. A lot of the products sold in the shop are local to Lancashire too. I loved the fact you buy a huge wedge of cheese cut from a round, the traditional way and still see the imprint of the cheesecloth on the outside.
The Dewlay cheese shop, Lancashire and British cheese a speciality.

More than just the cheese to tempt you if you like home baking.
Garstang blue Lancashire cheese waiting to be sliced and paired wines in the shop.
Then it was home for lunch with a selection of cheeses and other goodies bought in the shop...and a debate about which Lancashire cheese we like the most. My favourite is Lancashire creamy and I like the mature one best, then Garstang Blue (which I made some soup with last week) my husband is a big crumbly Lancashire fan.

I would recommend a visit to the shop and viewing gallery, great for kids to see how cheese is made for real and learn more about it and lots on offer in the shop too. Bear in mind the cheese making times before you set off.

2 comments:

  1. What a FABULOUS day out, and I have just spied some Churchill China, I am working with them now and I see that their LOVELY Love range is being sold in the shop! That's great as it is British!!
    A GREAT read and as a cheese-oholic, I would have been on seventh heaven there!
    Karen

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