Starter Culture

When it comes to making great cheese, we have a secret weapon. By using the traditional pint starter cultures — once used in all farmhouse cheesemaking — we can ensure that our cheddar has the complexity of flavour that has defined the famous cheese for centuries.

Our family is proud to have been making cheddar for nearly two centuries — longer than anyone else in the world. We also want to preserve traditional West Country cheddar for future generations. Because of this, we became the guardians of a unique collection of traditional starter cultures, which contribute to the unique taste of authentic cheddar.

Starter cultures are blends of ‘friendly’ bacteria that start the cheesemaking process by making the milk more acidic. They also determine the flavour, texture and aroma of the final cheese.

Historically, farmers used sour milk or leftover whey, which contained natural bacteria from the local land and animals. If the cheesemaking went well, they would use the mixture again. Neighbouring cheesemakers would swap the best of these cultures and pass them down the generations.

As technology progressed, companies began to supply freeze- dried cultures in packets. But Nicholas Barber was determined to protect the heritage of cheddar and so established a laboratory to save the remaining historic cultures. We now supply them to other cheesemakers and are committed to protecting them in the future.

Barber’s are the only cheesemakers using such cultures to make rindless cheddar. We believe that it’s this dedication to authenticity that gives our cheese its characteristic complexity and depth of flavour.