Food find of the month - Shepherds Purse Cheeses

PUBLISHED: 17:10 18 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:13 20 February 2013

Judy and Nigel Bell

Judy and Nigel Bell

Look no further than North Yorkshire to find some of the country's finest traditional handmade cheeses, says Heather Parry

Many a good idea begins at the kitchen table and the creation of the celebrated Shepherds Purse Cheese company is no exception. The business began more than 20 years ago as Judy Bell experimented with recipes in at her farmhouse just outside Thirsk.

She decided to launch the company at the Great Yorkshire Show in 1989 and went on to win first prize that year at the Nantwich International Cheese Awards. Shepherds Purse has since won more awards than there is space here to mention.

The diversity of the range of cheeses is as tasty as it is amazing. Out of their stable of 12 different cheeses, the most famous is Yorkshire Blue which is a mild, soft, creamy and blue veined cows milk cheese with a sweet and buttery flavour and no sharp bite.

It is one of my favourite cheeses and adds Yorkshire class to any cheeseboard. My lunchtime staple is the wonderful Yorkshire Fettle made from ewes milk. It is hand salted with a lemony flavour with a slightly crumbly texture, sure to cheer up any cucumber and tomato salad and is perfect in pita bread, griddled as a hot alternative.

But have you tried the latest addition to the range? Bells Bluemin White is a soft, creamy, mould-ripened cows milk cheese which ripens from the outside in so it develops an almost brie-like texture with a velvety blue rind. There are not enough adjectives in our language to describe it properly all I can do is urge you to go out and try some and I am sure you too will love it as much as I do.

The Bell family still farms, the dairy has grown and their three children are all employed in the business. The familys achievement in the last three decades is inspirational and Im interested to see what the business does next.

Heather Parry scours the county for distinctive products sold at Fodder, the Yorkshire Agricultural Societys farm shop and restaurant in Harrogate.

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