Edmund Tew is an award-winning soft cheese made by Blackwoods Cheese Company in Kent. It was crowned "Supreme Champion" at the recent national Artisan Cheese Awards 2018.
Made using raw cows milk, these small individual cheeses are often irregular in size and shape, and have a sunken top. Each has a natural rind, wrinkly from Geotrichum Candidum moulds, with savoury malty flavours. Inside is a smooth creamy paste with a fresh lactic taste. Its nearest relative is 'Langres' cheese from France.
- Unpasteurised cows milk
- Animal rennet
What is special about Edmund Tew?
In 2013 Blackwoods Cheese Company was set up by Australian Dave Holton and his then colleague at Neal's Yard Dairy, Tim Jarvis. It was first based in Brockley, south east London and milk sourced daily from Common Work Organic Farm in Kent, a three hour round trip. In 2016, Blackwoods moved their cheese-making operations to Common Work Farm near Edenbridge so now the unpasteurised milk they use is collected directly from the farm's milking parlour.
There is a herd of 240 cows at Common Work Farm. They are Friesian-Holstein crosses with Swedish Red and Montbeliarde. Swedish Red increases the butter fat concentration in the milk, and milk from Montbeliardes is protein rich and well known for good cheese making qualities.
Edmund Tew has a long, slow make. Afternoon milk is used, traditional rennet added and left to acidify overnight. It is a lactic cheese. With only small quantities of starter culture and rennet added, the making of this cheese primarily relies on natural bacteria to convert lactose to lactic acid, thereby causing the milk proteins to cling together and form a curd. Next morning, curds are hand-ladled into moulds and left to drain for 48 hours giving Edmund Tew its smooth paste. The cheeses are then transported to Neal's Yard Dairy in Bermondsey for maturing. Here the cheeses are brine washed regularly to encourage rind formation and the wrinkly "brain" pattern of Geotrichum moulds.
Edmund Tew is one of Blackwoods' "Convict Series" of cheeses! With a nod to cheese-maker Dave Holton's Australian heritage, it is named after a British convict sent to Australia in the 1800s for stealing cheese. On 13 July 1829, Edmund Tew from Leicester, was found guilty of stealing bread, cheese and beer. He was only sixteen at the time but was transported to Australia for seven years. Also in the "Convict Series" is a cheese called William Heaps, a fresh lactic cheese, named after another cheese-stealing convict sent to Australia from Lancashire.
Blackwoods Cheese Company is probably best known for "Graceburn", its marinated feta-style cows milk cheese. This cheese takes its name from the river in Holton's home town in Australia. Graceburn is softer than traditional feta. In distinctive glass jars, it is steeped in blended extra virgin olive and rapeseed oils (rather than brine) with garlic, thyme, bay leaves and pepper.