The history of Ashmore Cheese.
No longer made in Ashmore, Ashmore Farm Cheese is now produced
on his Lordship's land. This is quite confusing since another cheesemaker
trading as Cranborne Chase Cheese is making three soft cheeses,
Filly Loo, St Nicholas and Win Green at Ashmore.
The couple brought with them the equipment that they had collected
over twenty years – the original fifty gallon vat, two other large
ones, the moulds and a motley assortment of mainly antique presses.
When David was teaching himself the rudiments, he had relied on
to, one ton concrete blocks to weight his cheeses. They served their
purpose in the short term, but weren't an ideal solution in the
He brought his first press for £5. the father of a local vet acquired
it for him at a farm sale near Okehampton in Devon. Listed as Lot
No 1, it was damaged and caked in rust, but usable after it was
repaired. Actually, it was a snip, because the cast-iron frame,
sandblasted and repainted, will last forever. In fact, in the Victorian
era a similar press would have cost £2.10.0 to buy new, more than
a months wages for a farm labourer.
In the Cranborne dairy there are a dozen working antique presses
brought form all over England. An 1856 advertisement for their 'prizewinning'
Rack and Pinion Cheese Press, made by Denings of Chard, boasted:
'greatly improved by means of a roller being placed on each side
of the follower, thereby preventing friction. The pressure can be
regulated from 12 to 16 cwt by means of the weight being made to
shift on the lever.' The 'follower' in the copy was a circular hardwood
disc that fitted between the moulds and the press.
Although their tools may have been antiquated, the Dobles' dairy
would have many of their peers looking on with envy. It's spacious,
bright, impeccably clean, with a view onto open fields where rare
White Park cattle graze. Cheeses that have been formed in Caerphilly
moulds line the store in ordered rows. At four months, when they
are ready to eat, they have a firm texture that retains just a hint
of moisture. They have a clean lactic smell and just enough acidity
to give them an edge.
David describes himself as 'mad about cheese'. What he objected
to most when his previous landlord had suggested that they join
forces was the latter's readiness to compromise standards, to put
commercial expediency before quality. 'We would never,' David insisted,
'think of selling something that wasn't perfect.' His is an old
fashioned craftsman's pride in his skill.
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