The woodlands and hedgerows of Cornwall are full of wild garlic each spring – but once the pretty white flowers arrive, it heralds the end of the leaf picking season for us. We want the freshest, greenest leaves we can find – and once the plant starts putting its energy into a floral display, well, we just don’t want to know!
Yes, our Yargs look beautiful wrapped in nettle or wild garlic leaves but it’s not just the good looks we are after. We want taste from our natural rinds too – not only for the outer layer of our cheeses but from the very core too.
Nettles impart a delicate, mushroomy taste whereas the Wild Garlic gives a more pungent flavour, more reminiscent of itself. If you haven’t yet tasted the latter, don’t imagine it to be anything like the cheeses that use bulb garlic. It’s a subtle yet complex moment.
Nettle leaves attract naturally occurring moulds raising the ph of the cheese which in turn breaks down the curd and encourages maturation. The curds start off crumbly and become smoother as the nettles do their work. Nettle leaves are permeable, so they create a convection, transferring air in and air out. Garlic leaves are less permeable so there is less moisture loss, hence its firmer texture. Garlic leaves are also anti-microbial so they attract less mould growth. The different leaves totally govern the way in which the cheese matures, and ultimately how the cheese tastes.
Try them both – it’s hard to believe they started out as the same cheese!