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In praise of Suffolk cheeses

One of the nice things that has happened in East Anglia this century is the increasing number of really good cheese makers. I enjoy surprising visitors from other parts with a fine range of local cheeses.

Another good thing is that they are now much more widely available. Memorable Cheeses in Dial Lane, Ipswich is always a good source. And the Co-op has cheese counters, a goodly proportion locally sourced, (certainly at Debenham) that puts the big supermarket chains to shame.

Historically, Suffolk cheese did not have a good name. It was called Suffolk bang and the biggest customer was the Royal Navy in the days of sail. It was said it was so hard even the weevils could not get into it.

The trouble was they used milk that had already been skimmed to make butter, which had a very good reputation.

In the past decade or so there has been a cheese making renaissance. A food blog, With Knife and Fork, had nice things to say about it. (Norfolk has delicious cheeses too.)

I guess that if the secret really was out, demand would soon outstrip supply. But I wonder whether the farm shops and other rural outlets are doing all they could to promote the local produce. They often have nice cheeses, including some local ones, but the prices tend to be high.

One of the cheeses I frequently get is Shipcord, made from unpasturised milk at Rodwell Farm, Baylham, near Needham Market.

Last week I bought some from the Suffolk Food Hall, in the shadow of the Orwell Bridge, where I had gone to get some of the excellent lamb the butcher there sells. I bought some Shipcord from another of the sections.

At home, I noticed the label gave the price per kilo as £21.04. In the Debenham Co-op it is priced at £16.90 pence. That is a big difference and I walk to the Co-op.

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  1. PiscatorRedux says

    A saying is “Hunger will break stone walls, and anything except a Suffolk cheese”.

    It wasn’t much liked by people, as Pepys mentions in his Diary of October 4th 1661.

    http://www.pepysdiary.com/archive/1661/10/04/

    I love it myself, but I’ve still got got my own teeth.