Ireland’s Cheese Culture and Cuisine CAMPAIGN FINANCED WITH AID FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION
Introduction Europe is at the heart of both the production and consumption of cheese, with more than 1,000 varieties available. Europe is responsible for 46% of cow’s milk cheese output globally. Our love for cheese is unquestioned in Ireland, with 11.5 kgs of cheese consumed per capita in 2014. With increasing choice and availability, consumer demand for taste, value, convenience, safety and nutrition are imperative. Ireland’s environmental conditions – temperate climate and abundant rainfall – support excellent pasture lands, particularly in the grassland regions of Munster. As a result, Ireland has a long and enduring association with the production and consumption of dairy produce. Ireland’s cheese and cheesemaking culture has developed and declined, adapted and re-emerged over the centuries. Indeed, the history of cheese in Ireland is almost a case study for the course of Irish history as it has changed and adapted with political events and economic trends. It had been shaped by cultural contacts with England and, from the early modern period, it also has been influenced by global patterns and adjustment in terms of trade, taste and fashion. Cheese Up Your Life is an EU-funded multi-country campaign involving Denmark, France, Ireland and Northern Ireland. This three-year programme runs from 2015-2017 with the aim of promoting and creating awareness of the taste, versatility and convenience of cheese in everyday life.
Cheese History in Ireland The documentary evidence from the early medieval period (c.700 to 1200) supports the view that dairy produce was a staple of the Irish diet particularly during the summer months. A wide variety of thin and thick milks, cultured and fermented milks, curds, and soft, semi-soft and hard cheeses are mentioned in the sources. Indeed, the prevalence of milk foods (collectively known as bán biad or white meats) is indicative of a society that was highly skilled and versatile in working with milk to produce an array of dairy produce for immediate consumption and for longer term storage. Consumption of milks, curds and lightly ripened cheeses was high during the main milking season while hard cheeses and butter were saved for the winter and early spring diet. Indeed, the high consumption of dairy produce is identified by outsider commentators and visitors to the country as a distinctive feature of the Irish foodways. The Jacobite author and soldier, Captain John Stevens’ account of Ireland, 1689-1691, for instance, makes reference to the Irish as ‘the greatest lovers of milk I ever saw, which they eat and drink above twenty several sorts of ways, and what is strangest for the most part like it best when sourest.’ However, by the time Stevens was writing, the domestic cheesemaking industry was on the decline. The turbulent seventeenth century destroyed the pastoral economy of the Gaelic Irish and this rupture to tradition coupled with developments and changes in Irish agriculture and the growth
Regina Sexton Food and Culinary Historian
of a food-based export industry saw the eventual disappearance of the cheese culture that characterised earlier periods. Furthermore, the growth of the butter industry, which supplied home markets, and an increasing network of international markets, saw milk and cream diverted production of a valuable commodity: butter-making won out over cheesemaking. In addition, the increased cultivation of potatoes as a reliable food crop for small farmers (and as a clearing crop for cereal cultivation) eroded the earlier milk and cheese and cereal pattern of the diet. Increasingly, the Irish rural diet came to be dominated by potatoes and skimmed milk or buttermilk. However, despite the decline in the Irish cheesemaking tradition, Ireland continued to have a cheese culture albeit one that differed from earlier times. The introduction of cheesemaking skills from England throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, saw the emergence of a particular cheese culture amongst the Anglo-Irish elites. Popular homemade cheeses included fresh curds cheeses, cream cheeses, semi-soft cheeses and a number of hard cheeses. Large towns and cities offered for sale locally-made cheeses and curds together with buttermilk, whey and skimmed milk to urban dwellers and the markets sold a variety of imported cheeses.
However, it was not until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that attention turned to the potential of making cheese on a systematic and commercial basis. Due in part to the emergence of the co-operative movement in the late nineteenth century and the establishment of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland in 1900, Irish creameries began to consider the potential of cheesemaking to supplement their industry in butter-making. Creameries began experimenting in the production of a variety of cheeses including cheddar and caerphilly-styles and by the early decades of the twentieth century the industry showed promise of expansion both at home and abroad. While Ireland continued to import cheese, the manufacture of Irish cheese was seen not only as a means of introducing competition to the market but it was also a remedy for farmers whose economic health was suffering because of the decline in the profitability of the export butter markets. By the second half of the twentieth century, Irelandâ€™s commercial cheesemaking industry was buoyant and expanding. Throughout the 1970s, in a parallel development of expansion and innovation, the country saw the emergence of small-scale, home-based industry in hand-made cheese. This new movement had its origin in West Cork and it would eventually inspire successive generations of award-winning artisanal cheesemakers whose products had gained an international reputation for excellence.
Cheese Analysis Sensory training, practice and knowledge about the chemical compounds, responsible for the scent and flavour of food – is a key to understanding why food has a specific taste, and it can aid in finding fact-based words, for describing the scent and taste of a given food item – like a specific cheese. The description can be used for describing the qualities in marketing material to direct the consumer to a product, so that the consumer has a better chance of actually liking the cheese. The descriptions can also be used in quality assurance and product development. In her work with sensory evaluations, Lisbeth Ankersen, finds that knowing which aroma molecules are present in a given product, can help explain, how a scent or flavour is “composed”. There are many factors affecting the flavour of the cheese – the microorganisms and other ingredients that are added, the mechanical methods, the temperature and the humidity of the air during maturation – the quality of the milk used. From research comparing milk and cheese from cows on pasture and cows in barns (all year round), we see a higher amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the milk and cheese from cows on pasture. It has also been shown, that the chemical composition of the flavour compounds in the grass and other plants in the field is reflected in the composition of the milk. When correlating this with sensory analysis, the milk and cheese is often described as more complex, with more green/ grass notes and more stable notes.
Lisbeth Ankersen InnovaConsult, Denmark
Flavour Map Nut, Fruit, Sweet, Caramel Cheddar Mature White Red Cheddar Mushroom, Earth, Mould
Barn, Sour, Umami, Ammonia
Milk, Cream, Butter
Taste & Flavour Attributes White Cheddar Taste & Flavour Attributes: Initially: dairy, barn, tart. Later: sweet, fruity, citrus, pineapple, a little honey, a little vanilla, sweet spicy, complex. Scent: Sweet, fruit, pineapple, a little citrus, a little flower, melted butter, freshly baked bread, a little vanilla, a little acidic.
Red Cheddar Taste & Flavour Attributes: Umami, cheese, salt, fat, slightly animal/barn, milk, a little nutty, slightly tart/sour, a little spicy, savoury, cream, a little hay. Scent: Sweet, mild, â€œwell roundedâ€?, melted butter, cream, warm milk, a little fruit (melon/apricot), a little caramel.
Mature White Cheddar Taste & Flavour Attributes: Slightly stable/animalic, rich/savoury, matured cheese, umami, bold, a little fruit, slightly sweet, butter, hay/coumarin, a little nutty, slightly bitter after taste, tart/sour. Scent: Sweet, fruit, pineapple, tropical fruit, slightly tart, fresh, sour milk.
Tipperary Emmental Taste & Flavour Attributes: Mild, slightly tart/sour, cheese, nut, fruit, slightly floral, a little hay, melted butter, cream, boiled milk, slightly sweet. Scent: Tart/sour, cheese, sour milk, melted butter, slightly earthy, a little yeast.
Cashel Blue Taste & Flavour Attributes: Salt, Blue cheese, fatty, sulphur, mushrooms/chanterelles, intense, a little pungent, a little ammonia, full-bodied, savoury, umami, baked potato. After taste of flowers and fruit. Scent: Clay, soil, lightly tart/sour, a little sulphur, slightly ammonia, mushrooms/chanterelles.
Food Pairing Ingredient Suggestions Cheddar Beverages
Apple Tikka Masala (Cox’s Orange)
Soy miso Bread
Blue Cheese Beverages
Fermented Bean Curd
by Derval Oâ€™Rourke
Couscous Salad Prep Time: 3 min Cook Time: 12 min Serves: 6
Ingredients 280g couscous 500ml chicken or vegetable stock 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp turmeric 80g raisins 1c ucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced 1 red pepper, diced 1 yellow pepper, diced 1 lemon, zest only freshly ground pepper 150g of blue cheese For the dressing 1 lemon, juice only 1 tbsp olive oil
Method 1. Place the couscous in a large bowl. 2. Place the stock, olive oil, salt and spices in a large measuring jug and whisk until combined. 3. Pour the stock over the couscous and stir to combine. Scatter the raisins over the couscous. 4.
Place a tea towel over the bowl and leave the couscous to cook for 10 minutes or according to the instructions on the package.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Stir in the vegetables and lemon zest.
Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the couscous and toss well.
7. Scatter the blue cheese over the salad and serve.
Derval Oâ€™Rourke 9
Fish Stew Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 45 min Serves: 4
Ingredients 3 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, chopped 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped 2 celery sticks, chopped 5 garlic cloves, crushed Â˝ lemon, zest and juice 12 baby potatoes, washed and halved 300ml vegetable or fish stock 600g mixed fresh fish fillets, cut into 5cm pieces (ask your fishmonger) white pepper 100g of grated Cheddar cheese 4 tbsp chopped coriander 4 tbsp chopped dill
Method Preheat the oven to 180Â°C/350Â°F/gas 4. 1. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat. 2. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. 3. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. 4. Add the celery, garlic, lemon zest and juice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. 5.
Add the potatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
6. Add the fish and simmer for 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. 7. Remove the casserole from the heat and season the stew with white pepper. 8. Sprinkle the Cheddar over the stew and place the dish in the oven for 5 minutes to create a crispy topping. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve.
Cheesy Chilli Con Carne Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 1 hr Serves: 5
Ingredients coconut oil olive oil 2 onions, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 chilli, finely chopped 2 tsp paprika 800g lean minced beef 2 Ă— 400g tins of chopped tomatoes handful of cherry tomatoes, halved 2 celery sticks, finely chopped 1 red pepper, chopped 1 yellow pepper, chopped 500ml beef stock 5 tbsp tomato purĂŠe 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed salt and pepper 125g grated Cheddar cheese 250g natural yogurt handful of chives, chopped handful of coriander leaves brown rice, to serve
Method 1. Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat. 2. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. 3. Add the garlic, chilli and paprika and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 4. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in another large pan over a medium heat. Add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked mince, discarding the fat in the pan. 5. Place the cooked mince into the pan with the onions. 6. Add the chopped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, celery, peppers, stock and tomato purĂŠe and stir well 7. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans and cook for 10 minutes. 8. Meanwhile, mix the yogurt and chives in a medium bowl and set aside. 9. When you are ready to serve, ladle the chilli into bowls and top each portion with a tablespoon of the yogurt, chives and cheese. Sprinkle over the coriander. Serve with brown rice.
Cheesy Tomato & Aubergine Bake Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 35 min Serves: 3
Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with olive oil and season well. Divide the aubergine slices between two baking trays and bake for 12 minutes, turn once during cooking.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato purée.
2 aubergines, sliced lengthways into thin strips olive oil salt and pepper 2 onions, finely chopped 5 garlic cloves, crushed 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 2 tbsp tomato purée handful of basil leaves, torn 3 eggs, beaten 60g grated Cheddar cheese 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/ gas 3.
4. Remove the aubergine slices from the oven and increase the heat to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. 5. Layer half of the aubergine slices in the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. 6. Add the basil to the tomato sauce and stir well. Pour the sauce over the aubergines in the dish. 7. Add the remaining aubergine slices in an even layer. Pour the egg on top and finish with the Cheddar and Parmesan. Bake for 15–20 minutes. 8. Divide the bake into warmed serving bowls.
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Serves: 4
Ingredients 175g wholewheat pasta 1 tbsp olive oil 1 bunch spring onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 130g broccoli florets 3 cooked chicken breasts 4 tbsp natural yogurt 100g of grated Cheddar cheese
Method 1. Cook the pasta in a saucepan of simmering water for 12-15 minutes, until it is tender. 2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and simmer the onion and garlic on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes. 3.
Add the chopped chicken to the frying pan and cook for about 8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Meanwhile steam the broccoli. 5. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. 6. Stir in the onion, garlic and broccoli. Add the yogurt. 7. Serve with the cheese sprinkled on top.
Veggie and Cheesy Omelette Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 10-12 min Serves: 2 children
Ingredients 1 tbsp olive oil Â˝ red pepper, diced Â˝ green pepper, diced 2 spring onions, diced 40g Cheddar cheese 1 tbsp milk 3 eggs
Method 1. Using a non-stick skillet, heat the oil. Add the peppers and spring onion. SautĂŠ for 4-5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skillet. 2. Beat three eggs with milk. Pour the mixture into the hot skillet and allow to cook and set. Once the top of the eggs is almost set add the vegetables and cheese to one side of the egg mixture. 3. After the cheese has begun to melt fold half the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese. Press on the omelette to squeeze out any uncooked egg. 4. Remove from the skillet and serve on a warmed plate.
The National Dairy Council The Studio Maple Avenue Stillorgan Co. Dublin Phone: Fax: Email:
+353 1 290 2451 +353 1 290 2452 firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on May 4, 2016
Ireland’s cheese and cheesemaking culture has developed and declined, adapted and re-emerged over the centuries. Our love for cheese is unqu...