David and Jo Clarke have been making cheese on their Leicestershire family farm since 2005. They use unpasteurised milk from their own closed pedigree herd for their cheese-making. The cows are fed on the farm’s lush pastures and calving takes place all year round to keep the milk supply as consistent as possible.
Following in his parent’s footsteps, Will Clarke began making a new stilton recipe cheese in 2017 as part of the farm’s continued diversification. Sparkenhoe Blue is made using the same unpasteurised milk from his family’s herd and showcases the benefits of traditional farmhouse blue cheese that uses raw milk. Although made in within the geographical region of Stilton, as a raw milk cheese, Sparkenhoe Blue does not meet the specifications of the Stilton PDO which requires the use of pasteurised cows’ milk. However, the Clarke family found such favourable flavour results in using their own raw milk they decided not to pasteurise and make a very traditional Leicestershire blue cheese.
The cheese has a dense and crumbly texture with a fine blue veining. The cheeses are pierced (a process where oxygen is allowed to enter the cheese and activates the mould in the inoculated milk) later than in many blue cheeses, giving the cheese a distinctive sharpness of blue cheese without overpowering any other flavours. The cheese has a tangy apple acidity and mellow savoury finish.
We visit Sparkenhoe farm every few months to taste recent batches of Sparkenhoe Blue that have been carefully matured for three to four months.
Serve with Bath Oliver biscuits with walnuts and sweet pickles for a classic English table cheese. Or melt onto a beef steak or mushrooms to elevate a dinner.