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Joseph Harding

(Harding, Joseph: (1805-76) The leading force in the development of Cheddar and related cheeses, while working at Marksbury, near Bath. His dictum was ‘Cheese is not made in the field, nor in the byre, nor even in the cow, it is made in the dairy’.
He kept his dairy scrubbed clean, and to make his Cheddar, he first strained the milk, then added sour whey, to act as a ‘starter’. The milk was then heated to 84F (29C) and a measure of rennet (newly-introduced from Denmark) was added and an hour allowed for coagulation before the curd was carefully and minutely broken. Even this cutting was carefully timed.
The mixture was then placed in a large tub with a convex bottom, so that the curd could be cut from the sides and placed on the elevated centre. It was heaped up and allowed to drain under its own weight before being cut, turned and left yet again for any remaining whey to drain away.
He then packed the cooled curd into moulds and lightly pressed them.
After an hour, the cheese was removed from the moulds and broken into finger-sized pieces by a curd mill. Salt was then evenly distributed at a rate of 1lb to 56lbs of curd (500g to 28 kilos) and the green cheese was repacked in the moulds using clean cheesecloths.
It was then matured for several months.
There is a re-creation of what Harding’s cheese room might have looked like in the Somerset Museum of Rural Life at Glastonbury. See ‘Cheese’; ‘Cheddar’

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