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Caerphilly cheese is moist, white and very crumbly; it has a fresh, salty but slightly sour flavour. It originated on farms near Caerphilly in Wales in the mid-1800s.

It was known locally as miner's cheese. It became a great favourite with Welsh miners who believed that cheese adsorbed some of the toxic gases from the pit (although why they would then want to eat them remains a mystery!). Whether or not this is true, the cheese did have the quality of remaining moist while underground. The high fat content, 48%, would have provided the miners with lots of calories and the salt in the cheese would have helped replace salt lost through sweating.

The cheese is made by the hard press method where the curds are pressed to squeeze out the whey. Ideally the milk should be unpastuerised (this is actually true for all cheeses, and remains a controversial issue in Europe). Most of the Caerphilly produced uses vegetarian rennet to coagulate the milk. The cheeses, weighing around 4 kg, are then salted, racked and left to mature for around 2 weeks. This cheese is best eaten young.

Caerphilly goes well with sharp fruits such as grapes and apples, or is nice crumbled into salads.


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