Cheese of the Day: March 20 – West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, PDO – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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Cheese of the Day: March 20 – West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, PDO

Monday is Time to talk Cheddar at our Facebook Cheese Study Group presented today by ACS CCP Marcella Wright (which would be me):

I chose Cheddars mainly because I love cheddars but when I wrote the first article two weeks ago, I realized I was tackling the iconic style of cheese that recently had been covered in depth by Cheesemonger Gordon Edgar in his best-seller Cheddar… a hard act to follow…

West Country Farmhouse Cheddars are the only European Cheddars recognized with the EU’s PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) classification. The EU has three levels of designation: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO); Protected geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG). You can also visit the European Commission’s page regarding geographical indication and lists of all designated cheeses, wines and other products. Switzerland, which is not part of the European Union, protects its cheeses with the AOP designation.

Currently less than a dozen West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheesemakers are making the PDO version of cheddar. These include Brue Valley, Batch Farm, Westcombe, Keen’s, Denhay, Green’s of Glastonbury, Parkham Farm and Montgomery’s. Richard Green, British Cheese Grader, explores the rise and decline of traditional cheddar cheesemakers in his book, The LAST West Country Cheddar Cheesemakers. Of the five Montgomery’s and Keen’s are readily available here in the US. Back in my early mongering days, the shop I managed carried both Denhay and Green’s but I haven’t seen them recently for sale in our area. (Keep in mind, I live in a rural area so… finding quality, specialty cheeses is not that easy…)

On page 88 of  “Cheddar” Gordon discusses West Country Farmhouse Cheddar and how some criticize the cheese as “being less traditional than it could be”. The PDO requirements are specific and include many traditional aspects like region, age and many of the aspects of cheddar cheesemaking. However, the PDO does allow for non-farmstead milk, nonartisan starter culture, pasteurized milk and even unclothbound blocks instead of truckles.¹

In England the term “farmhouse” refers to the cheese being aged at the same location as the cheesemaking whereas in the US “farmstead” refers to the cheese being made at the same location as the milk originates.

The PDO requirements for a cheddar to be labeled “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar”:

  • It is made using milk from local herds reared and milked in the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Devon or Cornwall. This ensures that the cheese has a particular texture and flavor.
  • It contains no coloring, no flavoring and no preservatives.
  • It is made in these four counties to traditional methods. These methods include the cheese being made by hand and the unique process known as ‘cheddaring’.
  • It is made and matured on the farm and aged for at least 9 months. Authentic Farmhouse Cheddar doesn’t leave the farm from the moment the milk arrives from the parlor until it’s ready to cut and pack. This means the Cheddar remains in the care of the farmer who can ensure that it is produced and stored to the very highest standards required of a premium cheese.
  • In order to retain ts PDO status we must also adhere to the very highest standards of food production as set out in statutes such as the Food Safety Act, Food Safety Regulations, Dairy Products Regulations and Food Labeling Regulations.


Our Facebook Cheese Study Group is raising funds to send worthy ACS CCP exam® candidates and ACS CCPs® who want to attend the 2017 ACS Conference in Denver, Cheese With Altitude. You can apply for a scholarship by clicking hereand you can contribute to the scholarship fund by clicking here. All monies raised (withe the exception of the fees charged by GoFundMe) go to the winners of the scholarship. everyone involved in the scholarship efforts is donating their time and receiving NO fees or monetary compensation… just the feeling of helping those who need our help. Complete rules and information can be found here.

¹Page 88 of Gordon Edgar’s Cheddar

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