Croeso i Gymru! or…welcome to Wales! In this cheesy article, we’ll be packing our bags and traveling to the Welsh countryside to bask in the glory of this fantastic fromage.
The Cheese of Wales
Just north of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff is the town of Caerphilly, the namesake and birthplace of caerphilly cheese. Caerphilly cheese has a humble origin story (beginning in the early 19th century) as filling fare for hungry coal miners. For these miners, the salt content of the cheese replenished depleted electrolyte levels and retained moisture even when stored underground. For these reasons, Caerphilly cheese became quite popular and prompted many area farmers to produce the cheese, making the town of Caerphilly a cheese hub.
*Almost* a world without Caerphilly
WWII threw a wrench in caerphilly cheese production. The British government diverted much of the dairy output to the war effort, shifting artisan cheesemaking to an industrial “cheddar-style” cheese more suitable for soldiers. Much of the region’s cheesemakers migrated to these more industrialized methods, causing nearly an extinction of Caerphilly cheese. Luckily, one steadfast cheese maker by the name of Duckett held on to the recipe and, once the war was over, brought the tradition back to life.
This war-induced dairy industry diversion is why you may find two different styles of Caerphilly cheese. There is the more industrialized, cheddar-like, version, which is white, hard, crumbly, and somewhat unremarkable. And, then, there is the true (OG) Caerphilly cheese. This traditional Caerphilly is magical! An earthy-gray edible rind covers a pale yellow semi-soft cheese. The closer you get to the center, the creamier it becomes. Caerphilly cheese flavors can range from citrusy to umami and mushroomy, with just a hint of farmyard funk. Totally delicious!
Sourcing, Serving, Cooking, and Storing Caerphilly
The great news is that traditional Caerphilly cheese, made following the original recipe, is available online. You can also purchase Caerphilly from Westcombe Farms where it is called, Duckett’s Aged Caerphilly.
Caerphilly cheese is at home on a cheese board or in a cheesy recipe, as it is a great gourmet substitution for cheddar or brie. Try Caerphilly when making macaroni and cheese, grits, baked potatoes, breakfast sandwiches, or any other cheesy dish.
Caerphilly should be stored refrigerated and wrapped in the original packaging or parchment paper. This cheese needs to ‘breathe’ a little, so if you need to wrap in plastic, wrap loosely. If cared for, caerphilly should keep for about 2 weeks.