Irish Cheese making is a relatively young industry. Economic factors in centuries past dictated that most dairy production in Ireland be focused on milk and butter. By the 1900s most of Irish Cheese production came from large manufacturers whose main focus was Cheddar cheese. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Ireland became known for farmhouse cheese making. Today, Ireland is ninth in cheese exportation globally. Thanks to Ireland’s naturally rich and lush pastures, Irish Cheese often contains a higher level of beta-carotene which gives their cheddar and other cow’s milk cheeses a natural yellow colour. Today, farmhouse cheeses made in Ireland are of high quality and unique to each farm thanks to the dedication of the families that produce them.
Types of Irish Cheese
Ardrahan is an award-winning semi-soft vegetarian Irish Cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Ardrahan has a pungent aroma with a buttery and complex flavour. This unique cheese is a washed rind type made by the Burns family in the lush countryside of Duhallow, County Cork in Southern Ireland.
Blarney Castle is a semi-soft Irish Cheese made from cow’s milk. Available plain or smoked, Blarney Castle is made from the milk of grass-fed cows which gives it a mild and creamy flavour similar to a young Dutch Gouda. Blarney Castle is all natural and has no artificial flavours or additives. This popular cheese is ideal for sandwiches and pairs well with fresh fruit and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
The first Irish blue cheese, Cashel Blue is modeled after French Fourme d’Ambert. A semi-soft farmhouse cheese, Cashel Blue is an award-winning cow’s milk product made on the Grubb family’s Beechmount Farm in Tipperary Ireland. This creamy tangy Irish Cheese has a pale buttery interior streaked with blue veins. Cashel Blue is wonderful in leafy green salads, with fresh fruit or spread atop a piece of French crusty bread.
Cahill’s Farm Cheddar:
Cahill’s Farm Irish Cheddar is an artisan cow’s milk cheese made in County Limerick in Ireland. This unique handmade Irish Cheese starts life as a tangy Irish cheddar, which is chopped into bits before aging, blended with a flavouring, then hooped, lightly pressed and aged to perfection. Cahill’s Farm Cheddar has a veined appearance due to this production method. Flavours of this Irish Cheddar include Irish Whiskey, Porter Ale (rumour has it that it is actually Guinness but they call it Porter to avoid licensing fees) and Elderberry Wine. This vegetarian Irish Cheese makes a stunning presentation on cheese platter or when offered as an hors d’oeuvre.
A fresh, mild, semisoft cow’s-milk cheese from County Cork. Carrigaline is not extraordinary eaten out of hand, but would add a nice, light acidity when melted over soup or bread.
Named after the city of Dublin, Dubliner Cheese is often described as a combination of Cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano. Dubliner is an aged cow’s milk cheese with the texture of Irish Cheddar but the flavour of Parmesan. It uses the same rennet used in Parmigiano Reggiano production, imported from Italy, married to a modified Irish Cheddar production method. Sweet and nutty, Dubliner is aged over twelve months to create a full flavoured cheese that is perfect for salads or sandwiches.
There are many excellent Irish Cheddar brands – Kerrygold, Tipperary, Wexford and Shamrock to name a few. Aged Irish Cheddars have rich, sharp and strong flavours that bring home the essence of the lush, clean and pure Irish countryside. Ireland’s lush pastures give Irish Cheddar its signature yellow colour, as this grass yields a beta-carotene rich milk.
Guide to Irish Farmhouse Cheese
Irish farmhouse cheese plays a fundamental role in the growth and development of Ireland’s artisan dairy sector. From its beginnings over thirty years ago, the sector has grown to encompass 47 producers and over 127 individual cheese types. The sheer breadth of cheese produced signifies the innovation and ingenuity this group of entrepreneurs has to offer.Aidan Cotter – Chief Executive – Bord Bia