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Cheddar (Keen's)

Keen's Cheddar Ltd.
United Kingdom
14 ins diameter, 10 ins high
30 lbs or 56 lbs
Cloth Wrapped

Cheddar has been produced at Moorhayes farm near Wincanton in Somerset, England since 1898 when the Keen family family first moved there. Today the farm is still in the family. Stephen Keen and his son Nick oversee the cows and herd management, while Stephen's brother George makes the cheese with his son James.

Milk for cheesemaking comes from the farm's closed herd of 250 Friesian-Holstein cows that are grazed on the pasture for much of the year.

The cheddars produced by the Keens are, along with Montgomery's and Westcombe, the most traditional English cloth wrapped cheddars available.

The Keens only use traditional pint starter cultures for their cheesemaking. These are a yoghurt-like culture, a pint of which is grown in a churn of milk before being added to the vat. These cultures were originally taken from naturally ocurring bacteria in Somerset milk, and the strains continue to be preserved.

George and James make 12-14 large wheels of cheese each day. The cheddars are made in two sizes, weighing either 30lb. (known as a half wheel) or the traditional size of 56lbs.

After production and unmolding, wheels are wrapped in cheesecloth to protect them during the aging process. Cloth allows the cheese to breathe and lose moisture, and as a result the flavors concentrate.

The resulting texture of a typical Keens cheddar is smooth, dense and firm. Occasionally, accidental veins of blue peentrate the cheese from the rind. Although technically speaking these are a fault, they taste delicious and add a subtle blue flavor to that part of the cheese.

Flavors are complex and rich, with hints of butterscotch, nuts and fruit, accompanied by a distinctive tang and long finish.