There is an old farming saying, “Look after your cows and your cows will look after you.”
It goes to the heart of what happens here at Park Farm. We take a traditional approach both to how we raise and graze our small herd of 160 mainly Holstein Friesian cows and to our artisan, handmade, hands-on cheesemaking.
We are entirely organic and are registered with Organic Farmers and Growers – so that means no fungicides, pesticides or artificial fertilisers are used on our land. Instead we use manure and organic compost: the environment, the land and the waterways remain uncontaminated. Our milk and cheese is produced in a way that protects our natural world and lets every farm animal feel the sun on its back.
Of course, we do not avoid technology if it will contribute to our animals’ welfare or will improve the quality of our cheese. We have a brand new milking parlour that allows our cows to produce one million litres of milk per year. Around 60% of this is turned into cheese in our state-of-the-art cheese facility, while the rest goes to another cheesemaker who uses it to make organic cheddar or to another producer who makes our delicious ice-cream.
If you are interested in visiting us, you can pop along to our café for a toastie or to buy some cheese. Or book in for a full tour of our dairy and cheese rooms: we do get busy, so if you’d like a tour, please contact us in advance and download our Tour brochure for more information.
We also welcome educational visits from schools. Download our Teacher Information Pack to find out more.
The Padfield family have been happily milking a herd of cows at Park Farm for four generations. Edward Ernest Padfield took on the 240 acres of Park Farm in August 1914. Cheddar cheese was made by his wife in the building that adjoined the farmhouse and the cows were milked by hand in the building across the yard. They had a small herd of Shorthorn cows.
In 1990, when Graham Padfield decided to start making cheese again, he was able to do so in the very same buildings in which his grandmother had made her Cheddar nearly 80 years before. Times change and in 2015, production moved into a new cheese dairy adjacent to the cattle dairy and milking parlour. Graham’s award-winning cheeses are now made closer than ever to where the cows are milked – less than 50 yards away!
The local Bath Cheese was well known in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was even recommended to Admiral Lord Nelson in a letter from his father, written shortly after Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Copenhagen.
To Admiral Nelson from his father, July 16, 1801:
My dear Horatio, – On Tuesday next I intend (God willing) to leave Bath and tho’ not very strong, yet, hope to reach Lothian on Thursday, as I must remain a few days in London, let me not interrupt any of your engagements.
Recollecting that Sir William and Lady Hamilton seemed gratified by the flavour of a cream cheese, I have taken the liberty of sending 2 or 3 cheeses of Bath manufacture.
I am my dear Son your most affectionate Edmund Nelson
Graham Padfield tracked down the recipe for Bath Cheese in an old grocer’s recipe book. It stipulates that the cheese must be made with full cream milk, that salt be sprinkled on the young cheeses with the aid of a feather, and that the cheese was soft and covered with white mould.
In 2000, Graham invented the Wyfe of Bath cheese, a nutty and sweet semi-hard cheese named after the character in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales while in 2010, he started making Bath Blue. All the cheeses have been well-received and have won many awards. Bath Blue came first at the World Cheese Awards 2014-15, seeing off competition from 2,700 other cheeses from around the globe.
All of our cheeses are made using old-fashioned manual methods, which gives the cheeses more flavour.
The cheeses are supplied to cheese shops, restaurants and delicatessens all over the British Isles and are also exported around the world, including countries as diverse as Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, the Ukraine and the USA.
All of our cheeses are organic and pasteurised and are both made and matured on the farm.
Once cut into, it reveals an ivory-coloured interior. The flavour is mushroomy and creamy with a hint of lemons. It comes wrapped in parchment paper with a red wax seal.This Cheese dates back to the time of Admiral Lord Nelson who, in 1801, was sent some by his father as a gift. It was recorded that Nelson’s sweetheart was ‘gratified’ by the flavour of this cheese.
The cheese weighs approximately 260 grammes.
Wyfe of Bath
This cheese can be purchased as a whole (approximately two kilos) or in segments. An Extra Mature version is also available, aged between one and two years.
This is a circular six inch cheese in diameter weighing approximately 650 grammes.
Do you want to know how we make our award-winning organic cheeses? Or are you thinking about making cheese at home for yourself?
Join us for a tour of our dairy – tickets are just £10, including a cheese tasting. We require a minimum of six people for a private booking – or you can come along to one of our open tours, on the first Wednesday of every month.
Booking is essential so please email us at email@example.com or call us on 01225 331601.
But if you really can’t wait, we’ve put together a short guide that covers the basics of cheesemaking – for whatever cheese it is that you want to make.
A good milk supply is of course crucial. We’re lucky enough to be able to use our own organic milk as soon as our cows are milked each morning – you can’t get fresher than that!
It doesn’t matter whether you decide to use cows’, goats’, sheep’s or buffaloes’ milk. The key thing is to know that it is as fresh as it can be.
We gently pasteurise our milk by heating it and holding it at 63°C for 30 minutes. This approach means that the milk is guaranteed to be free of any nasties when we start cheesemaking – not that we’d expect there to be any! We’d recommend that novice cheesemakers use pasteurised milk too, particularly if you’re interested in making soft cheese. However, raw milk is an option if you are confident of the source.
Much of the milk you can find in a supermarket will have been flash pasteurised, which can damage it as far as cheesemaking is concerned (it is heated to 72°C for a minimum of 15 seconds – but frequently to a higher temperature and for more time). However, you should be able to buy good quality milk at your local farm shop, farmers’ market or even from our café.
Fresh milk typically has a fairly neutral pH of around 6.6. Now, whether raw or pasteurised, the milk is now encouraged to acidify. This is the first stage in the process of turning milk from a liquid to a solid.
This is done by allowing (good) bacteria to consume the lactose in the milk and turn it into lactic acid. These bacteria occur naturally and these can sometimes be harnessed if you use raw milk (although it can be unpredictable). However, the majority of cheesemakers, ourselves included, will add a starter culture of bacteria to the milk to begin the process.
These cultures will vary depending on what type of cheese is being made and what types of flavour are being encouraged to develop. The temperature of the milk is also vital at this stage – if it is too hot the bacteria will be killed, too cold and the bacteria will not wake up. It depends on the type of culture but for most cheeses the milk temperature will be between 30°C and 35°C – although certain cultures, for example those used to make emmental, are heat loving and the milk will be correspondingly warmer.
Again, depending on what cheese is being made, ripening cultures may also be added to the milk at around this stage. There are many combinations of cultures to choose from but, for example, if you want to produce a white rind such as is found on a Brie, Camembert or our own Bath Soft Cheese, you would add Penicillium Camemberti while blue cheeses like our Bath Blue are typically ripened using Penicillium Roqueforti.
Once the acidification process is judged to be sufficiently underway, rennet is added to coagulate the milk into a solid. Rennet does this by causing the casein in the milk to precipitate (around 80% of the protein in cow’s milk is casein). Without getting too technical, the fat in the milk becomes trapped in a matrix of casein, leading to the formation of curd.
Traditionally, rennet is extracted from the fourth stomach of an unweaned calf (the enzyme in the rennet that acts on the casein helps the calf digest milk). However, today there are vegetarian options such as microbial rennet or plant extracts from cardoons or thistles. Opinions differ over whether the type of rennet affects the overall taste of the cheese but we use animal rennet in our Bath Soft Cheese, Kelston Park and Bath Blue but we use a microbial rennet for Wyfe of Bath – so it is entirely suitable for vegetarians.
It is also possible to make cheese without any rennet at all, using the lactic acid that has now developed in the cheese. Many goats’ milk cheeses are lactic cheeses – in part because goats’ milk responds less well to rennet than cows’ or sheep’s milk. Be that as it may, with the rennet added, the milk is left undisturbed while coagulation occurs.
Cutting the Curd
After an hour or so, the rennet will have transformed the milk into a solid, slightly gelatinous mass of curd. The whey (the liquid part of the milk) must now be released from the curd. This is done by cutting the curd evenly into smaller pieces.
The smaller the pieces of curd, the more whey is released and – by and large – the firmer and drier the eventual cheese will be. So our Bath Soft Cheese will be cut into larger pieces than Bath Blue .
Stirring at this stage will also help to release more whey. It takes all the cheesemaker’s skill and know-how to determine just how much to stir or cut the cheese to achieve the desired texture and consistency.
With some cheeses, such as Cheddar and Wyfe of Bath, it is desirable to increase the temperature of the curd to achieve a firmer set. The curd is scalded by draining off some of the whey and replacing it with hot water. Stacking the resulting curd in blocks on top of one another (a process known as ‘cheddaring’) also drives out more of the whey.
Salting and Shaping
The cheese has continued to acidify throughout the process. When it has reached a sufficient level of acidity, salt is added to halt further acidification. The salt also serves to add flavour, works as a preservative and helps to develop a rind on the cheese.
The salt can be added directly to the curds (Bath Blue), rubbed into the surface of the cheese once it has been moulded (Bath Soft Cheese) or the cheese can be soaked in a salt brine (Wyfe of Bath).
The curds are poured into moulds. These moulds will determine the size and shape of the finished cheese. Whey will continue to be expelled from the cheese through holes in the moulds. Some cheeses, such as Cheddar, are pressed to expel even more whey.
The final stage of cheesemaking is to ripen the cheeses. Temperature and humidity must be carefully controlled to ensure the cheese matures at the right speed and with the right texture and flavour. Surface moulds are encouraged to develop (some cheeses have other cultures added at this stage) – or they may be washed in alcohol or brine.
It’s a delicate process requiring the full attention of the cheesemaker. Many cheeses require regular turning to ensure that they maintain a uniform shape. Our Bath Blue has to be pierced hundreds of times, allowing air in – without this, the blue moulds will fail to ripen evenly throughout the cheese. By contrast, Bath Soft Cheese develops a white furry mould which, with regular turning, is compressed into the distinctive white rind found on Brie and Camembert.
Soft cheeses ripen quickly – our Bath Soft Cheese is ready to eat within three weeks of being made. Hard cheeses mature more slowly with our extra mature Wyfe of Bath being allowed anywhere between one and two years. At this end of the scale, the resulting cheese develops an almost crystalline texture.
Work With Us
TRAINEE CHEESE MAKER – full time role / BATH
We would like to hire someone who loves cheese and has some experience of food production or food science.
The role will involve helping in all aspects of cheese making. This includes assisting in the making of all of our cheeses (soft, hard, and blue), as well as turning and brushing ripening cheeses, brining cheese, packaging cheese, washing the cheese room and equipment, preparing cheese for dispatch, etc.
The successful applicant will learn everything there is to know about making cheese.
We are looking for an enthusiastic and hardworking individual that wants to be part of our growing cheese business.
To apply, please email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
CAFÉ AND SHOP ASSISTANT – part time role / BATH
Are you excited by local food? Do you want to learn about cheese and coffee?
We are looking for enthusiastic people to help us in the café and cheese shop on the our farm.
Please email your CV to email@example.com
STALL SUPERVISOR FOR FARMERS MARKETS – part time role / SOUTH WEST
We are looking for enthusiastic and hardworking individuals that would like to spend around 5 hours on a Saturday or Sunday selling our cheese at Farmers’ Markets around the West Country.
This position is ideal if you love fine foods; enjoy talking to people at markets; have a driving licence; and are at least 25 years old.
To apply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV and a 30 second video telling us the key reasons why you’d be good at the job.