Farmers Markets : Caroline Wright 28 March 2009

TASTY: Phil Hulland making cheese.

TASTY: Phil Hulland making cheese.

First published in Features

AT 7am most of us are just thinking about getting up (or maybe rolling over for another five minutes) and wondering about what to have for breakfast. For Phil Hulland, however, 7am is an important part of the day – it is when the milk arrives.

Phil, owner of Lightwood Cheese in Lower Broadheath oversees the arrival of 2,200 litres of the white stuff from a Herefordshire dairy.

Phil, a regular stallholder at Worcestershire Farmers’ Markets, said: “To make our popular Elgar cheddar the temperature of the milk is first raised to 20C. I then add a starter culture which inoculates the milk with friendly bacteria and raises its acidity – this helps with the taste, texture and helps to keep the milk free of unfriendly bacteria.

“The temperature is then raised to 30C when the vegetarian rennet is added. This special ingredient is used to separate the curds and whey. The curds become the texture of blancmange – it’s then cut into cubes, which releases the whey.

“It’s then heated again to 40C and the curds become firmer and drier, then the liquid is drained off.

“The curds are then formed into blocks, crumbled, salt is added then it’s all put into moulds to be pressed over 48 hours.

“The cheeses, weighing 4kg each, are rubbed over with vegetable fat then wrapped in cloth and left to mature for 9-12 months.”

Phil, who makes a variety of cow and ewes’ milk cheeses, has also branched out with some new goats’ milk offerings.

“The milk comes from a herd of goats on a farm in Shropshire. I started making the cheeses a few months ago and I’ve been tweaking the recipes and now they are ready.

“One is called Capria, from the Latin for goat, which is a soft Camembert-type cheese and a soft blue goat cheese called Rhapsody.”

Phil also sells butter, which comes either slightly salted or unsalted.

“It’s excellent. It’s made by hand in the traditional way from double cream, which is churned until the butter forms and the buttermilk separates. The buttermilk is washed away, the butter is weighed, then patted by hand. The flavour is fantastic.”

Today’s farmers’ market is at St Peter’s Garden Centre, Worcester, from 9.30am until 2pm.

Next weekend you can find your local farmers’ market in Victoria Square, Droitwich, on Saturday and at Royal Worcester Porcelain on Sunday.

For more information, log on to wfmg.co.uk.

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