Tag Archives: Ribblesdale Natural Rinded Goat Cheese

The Last Couple of Weeks at Ribblesdale Cheese

It has been a very busy couple of weeks.  Business wise, we have had both a good April and a good May which has been great, to be busy.  We have been making goat cheese twice a week and I have been practicing some

My latest NPD

My latest NPD which is actually, even though I say it myself, quite edible

potential new cheeses.  Maybe I am not very experienced, but it amazes me that it is possible to make such different cheeses from the same starter but using different techniques.

Our goat curd is going from strength to strength and we seem

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of Goat Curd

to spend a disproportionate amount of time potting and bagging it up, but it is all good stuff and I don’t mind, even if it is terribly time consuming, it’s great to get it out there!

The highlight this week has to be winning three silvers at the British Cheese Awards, for our goat curd, natural rinded matured goat and our aged gouda which I am thinking of calling something like Gouda Gold – what do you think?  Mind you, we only managed to get our entries in by the skin of our teeth, because I forgot…

Another highlight was scoffing Stu’s dad’s rather lovely

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate 2014

Our Goat Curd Silver certificate 2014

banana cake – thank you Mike!

I had a great road trip the other Tuesday, to Scotland.  My internet at home has been very intermittent in the last few months, (partly why little blogging) which caused a bit of a problem, for, when I sat in my car outside my house at 7.30am tapping in the postcode of my destination, the sat nav would not accept it and I had no internet to find an alternative.  So, after a little swearing, I thought there was nothing more I could do other than point the faithful cheesemobile northwards.  I knew I had to aim for Edinburgh, so I headed up the M6 and followed the signs to Edinburgh and somehow, quite out of character, I found the industrial estate I was aiming for with no trouble at all, no getting lost, most out of character.  The journey passed surprisingly easily, I listened to Radio 4 and my ipod thingie which streams music through my radio.

southWhilst I found the industrial estate, I drove around for 15 minutes looking for the right place only to be stumped – typical, hey, I get there without sat nav or maps but cannot find an industrial unit until I noticed a Cheese Cellar van.  Aha, I thought, follow that van and sure enough it took me to the door.  Excellent!

I had a great meeting with some lovely, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people.  It was a pleasure to meet them.  We had a good cheese tasting session and I was treated to a look around their cold room – wow, some fabulous cheeses in there and I hope ours will join them.  Coming back, I tapped ‘Home’ into the sat nav which told me to turn right after 3.4 miles.  Hhhmm.  It was considerably more than 3.4 miles when I realised that the sat nav was no longer talking to me.  In fact, it had died.  Not only that, I was not going back on any route I remembered, the radio wouldn’t work and my ipod gizmo had also expired.  Almost 50 miles later after having driven up and down a mountain pass with zero villages, towns or any obvious landmark, just forest and a helpful sign saying River Tweed, I finally reached the motorway and mysteriously joined the M74 2 junctions further down than I had got off coming up.  I have no clue where I had been, still don’t, but that less than enigmatic sign saying ‘South’ was a very welcome relief.

We had a great two day commercial cheese making course.  It was intense, but I enjoyed it because the four people all had a great deal in common and all were some way down the road to starting their own dairy, which is exciting, not to mention life changing – good luck to Becky, Chloe, Sophie and James and I look forward to hearing how they each get on.

Our annual EHO visit is booked for the middle of June so that is one to tick off.  Hope not to forget it this year!

Other things that have happened include sending for the doctor again for the forks as its little rubber feet had come apart, making it hard to manoeuvre, so Ray the forklift mender came from Darlington and ministered to it.  We had a ratty man visit and I am trying to plan our dairy expansion which is proving very tricky.  I have asked for some help from a very experienced cheese maker friend who is so busy we haven’t yet been able to meet up, but it’s one of those things that I know I cannot do by myself and I am afraid of not doing it properly.

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

Our Natural Rinded Matured Goat Silver certificate

In brief, I have bought a boiler to generate steam and an oil tank to feed it.  We plan to convert to using steam to heat a new large  vat and our new pasteuriser.  We are going to have to rearrange all of our dairy equipment (again!) to make best use of the space and possibly move the dividing wall between the dairy and the wholesale area.  It’s a really big job and to be honest, I am dreading the upheaval, installation and commotion.  In my experience, it’s when you change things that things start to go wrong so we are going to have to be extremely careful to maintain our routine and quality.

We also had a visit from one of our larger customers, in person, so we were very honoured; it was a pleasure to meet with him at our place.  I showed our guest one of my new product development trial cheeses (pictured above) – and he liked it and said he would take it!  Yay!  So I have to start scaling up and perfecting it.

I have had a hideous time getting quotes for more labels.  I asked for a quote from 12 companies.  Seven replied and quotes ranged from 3.3p per label to 12.1p.  It was a 50/50 mix between digital and old fashioned plate printing, for the first timeI have opted for digital, so it will be interesting to see if there is a difference in quality.

I started a Twitter account which allows me to have conversations with people I don’t know, but would like to.  I

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

Our Aged Gouda Silver Certificate

am a real newbie so am probably not doing it very well, so it’s early days.  Our Twitter is: @RibblesdaleC.

Thursday was a really busy day, some end of month orders, which is great, but very pushed to get them out in time and a funeral to go to.  Stu came in for half a day to cover for me which was very noble as this week has been a holiday week for Stu.

The major lowlight was the death of our part timer Andrew’s step dad, Dave aged only 48: too soon and too cruel.  The funeral was on Thursday with an amazing turnout and a lot of lovely shared memories to keep thoughts alive.  My thoughts are with Dave’s partner Heather,step son (our) Andrew and Dave’s mum and dad.

Friday, I was scheduled to do a cheese tasting at a customer of ours, but my car died, right outside my front door – it simply would not start.  I felt awful about letting our customer down, not to mention piles of cheese samples, clean apron and Ribblesdale Cheese banner languishing in the back of my car.  Yesterday, Monday, my faithful cheesemobile was returned to me, with a new battery but no radio.  I would rather have a functioning car, though but how to get radio 4 back?

Let’s see what June brings us!

 

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A Day of Many Parts

Whilst Stu and Andrew have been valiantly making a 1,900 litre vat of Superior Goat Gouda (105 pots) I have been having a bitty day.

First off, we received a possibly unintentionally funny letter from one of our customers about health and safety, reminding us of our duty not to jeopardise the safety of their delivery drivers.  It says, ‘several establishments are bring attended by our drivers where they may be at risk of injury to unsafe delivery requests.’  Both fascinated and horrified, I read on.  It says that it is our responsibility to ensure their drivers have a safe means of delivery.  Ok, they pick up from us and usually time it so that they can take their break with us and have a brew too, so hopefully they do not mean us as they can walk straight through our door, unsavaged.  Then it said that on occasion their drivers have been asked to clamber over walls, deliver down unlit, uneven pathways etc to deliver goods which is an obvious contravention of sections 3 and 4 of the H&S at Work Act 1974 which are quoted on the next page, in full.  (Ok, let me make it clear, I might be taking this in a humorous way, but in no way do I condone asking delivery drivers to do dangerous things in dropping off and picking up goods, or ever would; we do take both our own and people who come to see us’ safety very seriously.)This got Stu and I thinking of what dangerous deliveries their drivers could have been making.  We decided to ask all delivery drivers what their most dangerous mission was.  We haven’t had any exciting reports yet.  But I did confirm an order that they sent to us with the following:

Thank you for your order, it will be ready for collection tomorrow morning.  But you will have to hurdle razor wire and then a 10 ft wall and crawl under a series of polytunnels to collect.  The wildebeast aren’t too bad, once you get to know them.  The wild puma is the one you really have to watch out for.

I didn’t receive a response.

Andrew's very fetching piggie jumper which I liked

Andrew’s very fetching piggie jumper which I liked

Andrew walked in today wearing a piggie jumper, hand knitted by his Grandma.  Immediately, I wanted to take a picture, but he came over all bashful and refused.  Since when has that stopped me, I hear you ask?    I weasled and cajoled, but to no avail, this picture is of the aforementioned jumper taken off and placed on the chair in the office.

Stu said he thought that as Andrew had been playing doms the night before, had a few beers in the pub, someone had bet him to wear it into work today.  I chipped in and said that if that was the case, we should have photographic evidence to support Andrew’s case, but still no.  Andrew wears a special cheese polishing coat when he ventures into the maturing rooms and lovingly rubs and turns all of the cheese.  We have sold all of the matured natural rinded sheep cheese and the latest batches are not quite ready yet, so we have been caught out on that one.  The three of us discussed how many we should bandage each week to keep up with demand and ensure we do not let anyone down.  It’s a tricky one, trying to predict sales; we need enough and not too many.  And, Andrew very kindly bought Stu and I couple of bottles of beer from his holiday trip, which was very nice of him, thank you, so perhaps we should not have been so unkind about his piggie jumper, though I like it.

After reconciling the bank and paying a few invoices, I spent all morning preparing orders for Thursday and Monday pick ups, boxing cheese up and preparing the sales invoices and competing the batch book.  Stu helped me with a big one when he was renneting and before Andrew came in.  One of the orders involved our Tasty Yorkshire which we

Pacman cheese

Pacman cheese

make for one customer in particular.  This is also the cheese that we used to make the pumpkins.  We were just a little bit short when making pumpkins, so I cut a quarter out of a whole cheese and re-vac packed it.  It looked like a pumpkin eating pac man, so I took a photo of it because I am easily amused.  Or did the pumpkin nibble the cheese – who knows.

Then I finalised, numbered and identified the samples we need in order to get our cheeses tested for nutritional information – these are being picked up on Friday.  I am very pleased, that with Rosie Nolan’s help from York University, we have been able to obtain a grant to offset the cost of nutritional testing, which if anyone does this kind of thing, will know it is jolly expensive.  If anyone would like Rosie’s help with something similar or help with starter culture development etc. let me know and I will forward your e-mail to her.

I now also have all the samples I need to go and visit Booths with on Monday, which I am very excited about.  Fingers crossed!  Then a long (and very necessary) conversation took place between Steve, our Parcelforce man and I about Season 3 of Homelands.  Neither of are convinced.  And talking of Parcelforce, we sent out three deliveries with them last Thursday, one to arrive before 12 noon the next day, Friday and the other two any time next day and all three failed – no-one received their cheese until Monday.  So I completed and faxed off three sets of claim forms, not that I have ever been successful claiming anything from Parcelforce.

Ribblesdale Matured Natural Rinded Goat cheese, painted by Christian Furr, hot off the easel

Ribblesdale Matured Natural Rinded Goat cheese, painted by Christian Furr, hot off the easel

In between all this, we kept getting phone calls about our insurance renewal.  One man asked me to go through each step of cheese making so that he could assess what machinery and equipment we use.  He wrote vac pack as flat pack.  I kind of felt sorry for him, but then again…….  I am afraid I was less than gracious.  I then reconciled the petty cash which I have been meaning to do for ages; oh yes, my life really is this exciting.

Next I received an official document confirming Direct Fruit Supplies’ final demise.  For more info, e-mail me: ionahill@gmail.com.  It looked like there was an overall deficit of £890k and made for pretty grim reading.  So much for paying all of us trade creditors back.

And then at the end of the day, I received an e-mail from our new artist friend, Christian, the (youngest ever artist to paint the queen and currently painting burlesque artiste Dita von Teese – according to his website) artist to whom we had delivered a Natural Rinded Matured Goat cheese, with a picture of his picture, so here it is, newly painted.  Christian says that he uses his friend Pip Seymour’s pretty famous Furr Brown paint.  I am seriously impressed and think it looks fabulous, definitely one of ours and am very chuffed – wow!  Love it!  I wonder who will buy it?  Christian’s other cheese paintings sell for £2,995, but he has kindly offered us a giclee print of it which is very generous – thank you!  This is the cheese that won three gold stars at the Great Taste Awards 2013.  What do you think?  Click here to view Christian’s other cheese paintings.

And now, it is gone 6.30pm and I am going home as I have hungry piglets to feed, some stupendously expensive wallpaper samples to look at.  I might even do some work too. Pitch black outside now, wet and decidedly cold.  Don’t forget to enter our snow book competition – click here to have a look.   Good night!

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Ramifications of Horsegate in the Cheese Industry

Me and Stu with our Superior Goat: Yorkshire Gouda

Me and Stu with our Superior Goat: Yorkshire Gouda

I look forward to reading Paul George’s column in the Speciality Food Magazine except where (in the past) he says that cheese makers need to control their costs and lower their prices.  I am sure that George is aware of rising milk prices and that most of us continue to cut costs to the bone without compromising quality.  Having said this, the cost of milk is the largest constituent of our cost base and we cannot influence or change this, for we are subject to market forces; it makes life difficult as I for one do not like passing on price increases, any more that the end consumer likes paying slightly higher prices.

This week’s column considers the ramifications for the cheese industry based on recent events in Horsegate.

George mulls over whether the dairy industry will have greater controls, stricter guidelines and more technical audits imposed on it.  And who will pay for this?  George suggests that it will either be the manufacturer or the consumer, so the cost of food will rise.

I agree with George that if more controls are placed on us, it will mostly affect the huge manufacturers with a more complex supply chain comprising many farmers selling milk to potentially multiple manufacturers.  For us, we have sole suppliers for cow, sheep and goat milk.

Unpressed goat gouda straight from the vat

Unpressed goat gouda straight from the vat

We do not receive mixed batches from multiple suppliers.  Our audit trail is very simple and transparent and is audited, particularly traceability, four times on an annual basis: by the EHO, Trading Standards, our external auditor and BRC and I really would not welcome any more.

Last week, I received a call from a farm shop who stocks our cheese, not directly buying from us, rather through a wholesaler, asking me if our goat cheese was just made from goat milk or was it a mix of goat and cow milk.  The person calling said that it was because they had a customer who was lactose intolerant and wanted to know that the goat cheese she bought was made only from goat milk or was it mixed goat and cow milk?

Cutting the vat: 1,900 litres of goat milk

Cutting the vat: 1,900 litres of goat milk

I was horrified and actually quite offended that anyone should think this.  I assured the caller that all of the goat cheese that we make is made purely from goat milk from Lancashire.  I explained how we record the milk intake with its tanker read out against the make sheet and the batch book and lab test, even saying that if they would like to come and see us making cheese and follow our audit trail, they were quite welcome to.  Probably a bit over the top, but I meant it!

I do not know anyone who mixes milk, but then again, with the price of goat milk twice that of cow’s milk, I wonder if it does happen, without being declared on the label.

Rest assured, we do not!

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Ribblesdale Blue Wensleydale a Sell Out

Ribblesdale Blue Wensleydale

Ribblesdale Blue Wensleydale

Wow, we have had a busy week which is a good feeling as October was dire and not just for us, by the sound of our other cheesey friends’ feedback.

And we picked up a new customer which we are very proud about – more on that later as I

Matured Natural Rinded Wensleydale

Matured Natural Rinded Wensleydale

will be taking pics of them when they come to see us, hopefully very soon as we are starting to get pretty busy.  Their first order went out last Thursday: Blue Wensleydale, our Natural Rinded Matured Goat, Natural Rinded Matured Cow, our Tasty Wensleydale and Smoked Original Goat.

I do not know why, but our Blue Wensleydale is flying out of the door – apart from it is a very good blue, with a rich, creamy base and gentle blueing; a really traditional Blue Wensleydale, which is hard to get these days.

If you need some, please give us plenty of notice as we are piercing them as fast as we can, giving them time to blue, testing each and every one with our cheese iron and then they disappear out of the door!

Natural Rinded Mature Goat

2 Gold Star winner at the Great Taste Awards 2011: Our Natural Rinded Mature Goat

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Ribblesdale Cheese Scoops Three Prizes at the Great Yorkshire Show 2011

Will write more in detail when know more detail!

But two seconds and a third prize is not bad!  Pats on the back all round…

Cheese Of A Single Farm Origin. E.G. Dorstone, Tymsboro, Yorkshire Fine Fettle.

FIRST: 505

M O Holbrook, Bath, Bath & North East Somerset

Tymsboro – unpasteurised goats milk

Second: 504

Ribblesdale Cheese Company 1978 Ltd, Hawes, North Yorkshire Goat Gouda

CIALITY PRODUCTS NON-BLUE: Class 57: SPECIALITY CHEESE – GOAT OR MIXED MILK

Any Size. Open Class, Any Country Of Origin.

FIRST: 554

Quickes Traditional Ltd, EXETER, Devon

Hard Goats Cheese

Second: 555

Ribblesdale Cheese Company 1978 Ltd, Hawes, North Yorkshire Matured Natural Rinded Goat

Third: 553

J J Sandham Ltd, Preston, Lancashire

LITY PRODUCTS NON-BLUE: Class 60: CHEESE MADE WITH EWE, GOAT, BUFFALO OR MIXED MILK

With Added Flavour. Open Class, Any Country Of Origin.

FIRST: 516

Lynher Dairies, Truro, Cornwall

Second: 601

Tom Walker & Sons Limited, Stockton on Tees, Teeside

Third: 596

Ribblesdale Cheese Company 1978 Ltd, Hawes, North Yorkshire

Smoked Goat Gouda

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