Third-generation Lancashire-maker Graham Kirkham still follows the traditional two-day curd method of making Lancashire cheese, giving a buttery, yoghurty flavour with a fluffy and light texture that melts in the mouth.
They are the very last farmhouse producer of raw-milk Lancashire cheese, and are still very much a family farm. Three generations of the family - Graham, his mum and his sons - produce superb cheese every day with the milk from their 70 cows.
The Courtyard Dairy is one of only two shops which still have Kirkham’s Lancashire made for them in a traditional 25kg (56lb) wheel. This size of Kirkham's Lancashire ages slower, producing a better, longer-lasting flavour.
Made by the Kirkham family in the village of Goosnargh near Longridge.
Graham learnt to make Lancashire cheese from his mother (the famous Mrs Kirkham) who learnt from her mother, and there is an even longer history of cheese making in the Kirkham family.
Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese is the last and only farmhouse Lancashire made from unpasteurised milk, with history of Lancashire cheese dating back to the 13th century it fell out of favour in recent generations. It was even banned during the second world war as it was inefficient to make compare with other recipes like Cheshire and Cheddar - the 200 farm producers in 1939 simply stopping producing creamy Lancashire.
The Kirkham family have continued to make both creamy (aged up to 12 weeks) and tasty (aged over 12 weeks) Lancashire cheese. This is a more traditional version of Lancashire than the crumbly Lancashire now made by many modern dairies. The modern dairy version was an invention to speed up the process of making cheese and make a drier, more crumbly, tart cheese.
Traditional creamy and tasty Lancashire is made over two-days (or sometimes even three or four). It involves using curd from both days (this method originated because some small farmers in Lancashire did not have a big enough herd to make cheese on one day, so would combine several days-worth of curd). Using the two-day curd method produces a rich yet light and fluffy texture, and helps develop the yoghurty, fresh acidic flavours.
Kirkham’s Lancashire is then traditionally clothbound and ‘buttered-up’ (enclosing the cheese in a buttered cloth to enable it to breath) and aged for 3-6 months.
Over recent years Graham Kirkham has expanded output (increasing the herd from 40 to 100 cows), built a new dairy and returned to even more traditional ways of making Lancashire cheese, producing a lactic, yoghurty-buttery flavour with a fluffy texture that melts in the mouth. This gives Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese the “buttery crumble” that Lancashire folk love!
Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese at The Courtyard Dairy comes from traditional, large 25kg truckles. Made to order for The Courtyard Dairy, these larger cheeses are more traditional and age slower, producing a better long-lasting flavour. (Most Kirkham’s Lancashire is now found in the smaller ‘midi’ size – 10kg – because many wholesalers and shops find it easier to deal with).
The mini-truckle weighs in at 1.1Kg
This product will have two weeks shelf life from the date of delivery.