‘That’s the number of years that we can trace back our family in the dairy farming business’ says Giles Barber. ‘We’re now the world’s longest surviving makers of cheddar cheese”
‘Things were obviously a bit different in 1712 when John Barber was born’ says Giles. ‘He bought Maryland Farm in 1833 and the family have been here ever since. Back then, cheese was made on a very small scale. Many local farms used to make cheese with surplus milk that couldn’t be sold locally for drinking. In our small village alone there were at least 12 cheddar makers. Now there are probably less than 10 traditional makers in the whole of the West Country.’
‘It was my Grandfather’s generation who realised that making great cheese could be an industry of its own and that the art of making cheddar needed to be preserved and protected. In the 1930’s they began supporting neighbouring dairies, buying their milk to make more cheddar in the time-honoured Barber’s way. By the 50’s they had developed their own sales operation and started to supply cheese to a much larger market. Crucially they also invested in their own laboratories to preserve the rapidly diminishing starter cultures critical in making farmhouse cheddar.’
‘My brother, cousins and I now continue what our ancestors started. We have a real determination to live up to our responsibilities to keep real cheddar making alive and have followed their lead in combining tradition recipes with modern production methods to improve consistency. Our lab ensures that the naturally occurring bacteria we need to make the best cheddar (the very same good, friendly bacteria that our predecessors used) are maintained. We still turn our curds by hand, but we use modern technology to ensure that the cheddar you buy is consistently delicious every time.’
‘However, one thing that technology will never be able to replace is our palate. Our 1833 Vintage Cheddar is matured for 24 months and will only then leave our farm when one of the Barber Family have tasted and approved it. It has our name on the pack so it has to be perfect’
Now we’ve shared a little of our family’s history, we’d love to show you our farm, so why not click here to see where we make our award winning cheddar.