Located in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers is a family farm with a long tradition of food and farming in the area.
The 150-acre property at at Beechmount was originally purchased by Louis Grubb's father in the 1930s. While Grubb didn’t originally intend to carry on his parents’ tradition of farming, his father’s premature death in 1978 wrested him out of his career at the Irish agricultural research institute. In 1979, Grubb transformed the 120-acre mixed Beechmount Farm into a dairy farm, establishing a herd of 90 Friesian cows, but he quickly became disillusioned with churning out high volumes of milk.
To make things more interesting—and profitable—Louis decided to turn to cheesemaking. Enter Jane Grubb, Louis’s wife. A trained chef, she devoured cheesemaking courses run by Veronica Steele, a pioneer of modern Irish farmhouse cheese. Soon, noting that Danish Blue was being imported into Ireland, she suggested the farm develop an Irish version and corner the market. Her notion was revolutionary; While there had been occasional attempts to mass-produce a blue cheese in Ireland, an artisan blue was unheard of.
Checking out a recipe for Danish Blue from the library, Jane experimented on the Grubbs’ kitchen stove with an heirloom copper jam pan (later upgraded to a copper cider vat). Big linen bags full of draining curds dripped into buckets set on the concrete floor with cheeses ripening underfoot in the earthen cellars. Named after the Rock of Cashel, a bold outcrop overlooking the Tipperary plains, Cashel Blue's production of has grown considerably over the years, gaining a reputation as one of Ireland's most famous blue cheeses.
These days, the wheel is produced in a modern, professional creamery—the rooms full of stainless steel equipment where curd is cut, young cheeses are brine-bathed, and aged rounds are wrapped in distinctive gold foil. And it's all overseen by Jane's daughter Sarah Furno, alongside her husband Sergio, who have been running the creamery since 2003.
During cheesemaking the milk is pasteurized, cooled, inoculated with Penicillium Roqueforti culture, and left at 89°F to ripen and allow the acidity to rise. Rennet is then added and the milk is left to coagulate for an hour. After the curd is cut, it is allowed to rest for another hour before being removed from the vat in a linen cloth, drained and transferred into the molds.
For the next two or three days cheeses are left to drain and turned regularly until they are dry enough for salting and piercing. The piercing process involves the cheeses being placed on a turntable and rotated whilst being pierced with long stainless steel needles. This allows air to enter the cheese, which then reacts with the enzymes and causes the development of the blue veins.
When young, Cashel is firm and relatively moist with a fresh, lactic and slightly sharp flavor. With age, cheeses develop a melt-in-the-mouth buttery texture and a rounder, mellower flavor.
Pair Cashel Blue with a Connemara Whiskey, a zingy Riesling, or a stout.