From Pastor to pasture

Cheese making can be a precarious pursuit. Many of the cheese makers that we work with regularly describe a process where the results can be unpredictable at best! In a recent interview with Andy Delves from The Traditional Cheese Dairy in Horam, East Sussex, we sought to find out more about this noble art.

Delving into the life of a cheese making family – The Traditional Cheese Dairy, East Sussex.

The Delves family took over the business in 2019 when it was based in Stonegate, and then in 2021 they moved The Traditional Cheese Dairy to Horam. Where it is now housed in its new home – a purpose built cheese dairy, adjacent to their herd of cross-bred Jersey and Friesian cows on the Delves’ dairy farm.

Outside farming, Andy also has a strong spiritual calling, he has been Pastor at the King’s Church, Heathfield and is a lay-reader at All Saints in Waldron. He had been taking a bit of time out for himself when his son Joe came up with the idea of merging their successful dairy business with the art of cheesemaking. As a result, he was enticed out of retirement to rise to the challenge of becoming a cheesemaker, and over a short intense period of time, he shadowed the previous owners to learn all he could about cheese making. Andy quickly adapted and assumed the new role of cheesemaker, perfecting the crafting of the five established cheeses.

“Our washed-rind, raw cows’ milk cheese is the most popular and the most tricky to make. We mature it for a minimum of eight weeks and during that time the rind is washed three times a week by the ‘Chief Washer’, my wife Lizzie. It’s always difficult to know how it will turn out and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said it has a tendency to ‘lark about’. At its best it’s a superb cheese with a creamy texture which cuts beautifully, aromatic on the nose with a floral taste.”

Andy Delves explains the making of their most popular cheese, Burwash Rose.

Here are the Traditional Cheese Dairy’s other cheeses, available from Cuculo Cheese & Wine:

It’s a truly family affair from cheese maker Andy and his wife, through to their son Joe who manages the farms, with their son-in-law Ben who looks after the herds, and supported by their daughter.

“Taking on the dairy has given us the opportunity, as an extended family, to find local employment for all of those who wanted to continue working on the farm.

“We like to make really good cheese, it’s a dedication not a passion and we plan to keep on doing it. There is talk of developing a more mature cheddar style cheese. But right now, we struggle to keep up with demand. There is a renaissance in artisan cheese and it seems that artisan British cheese has never been so popular.”

Cuculo usually stock the full range from The Traditional Cheese Dairy, subject to availability. We are delighted to offer Burwash Rose as our Cheese of the Month for March.

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