Our cheesemakers work with both science and intuition, experience is key. When making Yarg, we pasteurise it, add a ripening culture and a rennet for setting. The timing is crucial. Once set, we cut and stir, separating the curd from the whey until each piece is as small as a grain of rice. This increases acidity and fermentation.
We block and mill the curd and hand pack it into moulds. Once the cheese is pressed, we immerse it in brine overnight. After drying, we paint on the all important leaves on by hand. Leaf-wrapped Yarg takes about 4-5 weeks to mature, by which time a beautiful white bloom appears on the nettles, and the wild garlic darkens in colour. Stithians, known as Naked Yarg here in the dairy, skips this last stage.
Kern follows an entirely different process. The milk is gently heated at low-pasteurisation temperature to maintain its grass-rich and seasonal flavours and we add Alpine cultures – savoury, buttery, grassy nutty- to help develop its character. Kern’s burnt caramelised notes come from the scalding of the curds. Once the moulds are in the presses, pressure is gradually increased to force out the whey. Fifty hours in a briny bath adds the salty taste.
Coated in a breathable black wax, it then takes 16 -18 months to mature in a carefully controlled environment.