What's the best Cheddar for Christmas this year? Introducing Pitchfork Cheddar

December 12, 2023 2 min read

What's the best Cheddar for Christmas this year? Introducing Pitchfork Cheddar
One of the 2 founder members, Todd Trethowan (right in the picture), cut his teeth on the retail counter at Neal’s Yard Dairy in the 1990s.

Set on restoring Caerphilly-making to his family farm in West Wales – a cheese whose legacy had all but died out at farmhouse level – he learnt the requisite sales skills, then set his sights on working with the one remaining traditional Caerphilly producer, Chris Duckett. Mission accomplished, he returned home to Llandewi Brefi, enlisted his brother Maughan’s willing services & there began over a decades’ worth of excellent artisan Caerphilly-making.

Fast forward to 2013 & the stability of cheese-grade local milk production began to judder. After 7 supplier changes in a year & many qualitative difficulties to overcome, the brothers decided to take their skills in search of a long term partnership that would warrant their aspirations & ambitions. They looked across the Severn Estuary to Somerset, the home of Cheddar – an area with a long-associated history with Caerphilly.

Short term, flexible aging profiles for Caerphilly made it an excellent foil to the often long term, more regimented age profiles of Cheddar. & the two were historically often made at the same dairies to balance the farm books across the financial year.

Todd & Maughan found 4 potential avenues of milk supply & ran simple but revelatory tests on each – the taste of each farm’s milk, its microbial safety & diversity, ‘the yoghurt test’ which involves allowing the milk to sour of its own accord to see its flavour quality in yoghurt form. & lastly, they took a sufficient amount of milk back to Wales from each place to run test batches of cheese. Puxton came first for milk, but also for insight into the intentions of their project & the dynamism & commitment to accomplish it. After 3 years of pure Caerphilly production, the regional call of Nature prevailed & they began making Cheddar.

Now, 5 years in, they have a burgeoning production of both recipes at the best possible quality. Puxton Farm have 100 milking Holstein cows & 20 milking Jerseys. Using 900,000 of the million litres per year produced at Puxton, the Trod & Maughan are clearly the biggest client of the farm. 45 tonnes of Pitchfork are made per year & 40 tonnes of Gorwydd Caerphilly.

Whilst a figure to be infinitely proud of, it still sets their Cheddar production at a 1/4tr that of Jamie Montgomerys & 1/6th that of Lincolnshire Poacher so they remain a comparatively small scale operation, even in the artisan Cheddar making world.

As with the best of the traditional Cheddar makers, they work with pint starters & rotate a series of 3 different cocktails across their makes each week. Crucially, they work to a 5-6 hour curd acidification recipe which emulates production advocated in the 1920s writings of Dairy Microbiologist Dora Saker, who recorded some of the last pre-industrial Cheddar recipe formats, to phenomenal effect. Their cheeses are traditionally cloth bound & intended to age to around 18 months. 

We think their cheese is the epitome of classic Cheddar excellence & we can’t wait for you to taste it with us & give it a home on your ultimate Christmas cheeseboard.