In order to preserve milk, it needs to be transformed into cheese. This process involves coagulating milk and draining off excess liquid. Humans realised the usefulness of this technique very early on and began to produce curd cheese in the 5th millennium B.C. Hard, cooked-curd cheeses appeared in the late Middle Ages. There are thousands of types of cheese in the world today.
Did you know that nettle leaves serve as a preservative in cheese making?
In the United Kingdom, cheesemakers use stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) as a natural preservative. Cornish Yarg cheese is a semi-hard cheese made in Cornwall with a distinctive rind made by wrapping the cheese in nettle leaves. The earliest recipe dates back to the 13th century. “Yarg” is simply “Gray” spelt backwards. It is named after Alan and Jenny Gray, enterprising farmers who found a 1615 recipe for a nettle-wrapped semi-hard cheese in their attic. Today, the cheese is produced at Lynher Dairies Cheese Company on Pengreep Farm, by Catherine Mead.
Cornish Yarg wins international awards every year. Leaf-wrapped Yarg takes about 4-5 weeks to mature, by which time a beautiful white bloom appears on the nettles.
Made from grass rich Cornish milk, Cornish Yarg is tangy under its natural rind and slightly crumbly in the core. The nettle leaves, which attract naturally occurring moulds, are brushed onto the cheese in concentric circles. As the cheese matures, the edible wrap imparts a delicate, mushroomy taste and develops its unique bloomy white appearance.
And finally an English cheese joke: