With its bright yellow wax coating, Norfolk Mardler is one of the most eye-catching cheeses we have in our "wall of cheese" at Slate. On their recent cheese-making trip to Norfolk, Clare and John called into Fielding Cottage to find out more about how it is made.
At Fielding Cottage in Honingham, just outside Norwich, Clare and John met Sam Steggles. He has been making Norfolk Mardler and the three other cheeses in his range since 2009, shortly after buying his first ten milking goats on a family holiday to Cumbria. The herd is now a mixture of Saanen, Alpine and Toggenberg goats. Their milk is used to produce ten tonnes of cheese each year. The main herd lives on a nearby farm but we met the handful kept on site, happily chewing their way through a barn full of straw.
We arrived after cheese making had finished for the day to find the morning's make of Ellingham and Wensum White sitting peacefully in its moulds, whey gently dripping to the floor. All milk arriving in the cheese rooms is pasteurised by on-site equipment and set using vegetarian rennet in large shiny metal vats. Ellingham is a soft feta type cheese, tangy in taste, and Wensum White is a soft brie-style cheese presented in bricks.
Sam showed us the pressing equipment used to press up to 48 rounds of Norfolk Mardler at a time, before each one is dipped into molten yellow wax. With the distinctive green label of Fielding Cottage, Sam assured us it was pure coincidence this colour combination perfectly matches the strip of local team Norwich City!
Sam completed our tour with a look at the maturing room, filled primarily with Mardler which is matured for 8 weeks allowing its creamy taste to develop. The name of the cheese derives from Norfolk dialect: to "mardle" means to gossip or chat.
Sam is full of ambition to expand his cheese-making activities. His exciting plans include increasing his annual cheese production to make full use of the available milk and cheese-room facilities. Also the launch of a new cheese is imminent. Watch this space, we will be sure to bring you news of this new cheese as soon as it available!