Stamford cheese-maker launches 'Whyte Wytch' made at Sacrewell Farm
When Alison Williamson retired from a career in information management for companies such as IBM, she looked to her past for new inspiration.
Having gained a first-class degree in agriculture back in 1980 - and deciding against making marmalade because ‘anyone can do that’ - she turned her hand to cheese.
“To start a degree in agriculture at the University of Reading back then you had to be the son or daughter of a farmer, or work on a farm for a year,” said Alison, who lives at Bowman Mews in Stamford.
“One of my placements was at a small organic farm with goats, which we would milk for making cheese and yoghurt.”
Having recently refreshed her skills, Alison has completed her first batch of ‘Whyte Wytch' cheese, which will be going on sale online and at various shops, including The Stamford Cheese Cellar in St Mary’s Street.
The soft, unpasteurised artisan cheese, which looks similar to brie but has a firmer texture and more flavour, takes six weeks to make - which Alison does at Sacrewell Farm.
“I collect churns of fresh milk from Bassingthorpe Milk in Lincolnshire and add cultures that break down the lactose,” explained Alison, who said she then adds a rennet to firm the product.
“The whey is separated off and is fed to pigs farmed at Fotheringhay, and the curds go into cheese moulds.”
After several days on a drainage tray, Whyte Wytch is packaged, bearing the company name Stamford Artisan Cheese.
“There is a lot of manual work involved in making cheese - and washing up,” smiled Alison, whose business plan aims to move from one day’s production a week to three over the next three years, which would allow her to take on a new cheese maker.
She also plans to run cheese-making workshops, which could appeal as an activity friends can do together, or give as an unusual gift.
For those more interested in eating cheese than making it, Alison is holding a cheese-tasting in the Artisan Courtyard at Sacrewell Farm over the weekend of April 17 and 18, from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free and there is no need to book, but there will be restrictions on numbers due to covid measures, and so people should be prepared to wait if necessary.