Judith Walker, our President, welcomed members and several visitors to this month's meeting. She gave us a couple of dates for our diaries: Croquet at Charlecote on 26th April, a pamper evening in the Village Hall on 23rd May and a barbeque at Ann Farr's on 30th June.
Then, we put away our diaries and settled down to listen to the speaker for the evening. Roger Crudge is an award winning cheese maker, his latest being a gold medal from World Cheese Awards. He changed career from dairy farmer to cheese maker, which he claimed is the best job in the world. He produces cheese from raw, unpasteurised milk, because, he says, the flavour is so much better. He, also, uses milk from local farmers who supply him with cows, sheep and goat's milk.
Roger had brought along the equipment to demonstrate the cheese making process. He was using sheep's milk supplied by sheep belonging to our member, Margaret Titcombe and her husband. In fact Roger's sheep's milk cheese is retailed under the name 'Titcomb'.
He began with the milk at 3°C then added bacteria. This latter ingredient has to be imported from France. After 10 minutes he added rennet. Whilst the mixture was setting, Roger regaled us with some interesting facts, one of which was that he had discovered that the origin of the name Crudge meant cheese. It seems he was destined for his chosen career. Cheese making dates back to at least 5000 years. Pictures in the pyramids show people making cheese. The Romans brought it to Britain. 70% of the world's cheese production is Cheddar. Cheddar is not just a name, it is also a process, so can be manufactured anywhere.
When the demonstration cheese was set, Roger combed it backwards and forwards with the curd knives and, then, he transferred it into the cheese press, which separated the whey from the curds. Eventually, he had produced sheep cheese, but, because of the quickened up process, this particular batch would not be edible. However, to save our disappointment, he had brought along some samples, which we all agreed were delicious.
Roger is a very informative, entertaining and amusing speaker.
The next meeting is Wednesday, 11th April, when Philippa Charlesworth will give a talk entitled, "Followed my heart to Kenya"