Milk from Drinagh Co-Op suppliers is used for a new cheddar cheese in the Dunnes Simply Better range. Emma Connolly meets one of them, the O’Driscoll family from Leap
THE milk supplied to Drinagh Co-Op was singled out to make a new Dunnes Stores cheese because of its strong tradition and make-up of small family farms along the coast.
And among the suppliers involved in the Extra Mature Drinagh Cheddar is Brendan O’Driscoll and his wife Pauline, from Shreelane, Leap.
A spokesperson for Dunnes Stores said it was important that their customers know ‘not only where their cheese comes from but also where the milk comes from.’
An honest provenance is what they were looking for and Brendan and Pauline were chosen to be part of the ‘storytelling’ behind the cheese as winners of Drinagh’s Milk Quality Award in 2018.
Pauline, who works in Teagasc, Skibbereen, said they felt a great connection with the cheddar knowing their milk was used to create its distinct flavour.
‘It was a huge honour to be involved in it along with the other suppliers – it was a very positive experience,’ she said.
As part of the marketing campaign, they were visited by celebrity chef Neven Maguire who Pauline said couldn’t have been more interested in their set-up, which comprises a herd of 98 milking cows, as well as hearing the background to their fourth generation farm.
The idea for the cheese, as part of the Simply Better range, came about as Dunnes Stores felt that no existing creamery cheddar fully expressed the quality of the craft and raw materials which are abundant within the country.
A spokesperson said: ‘We identified Carbery Creamery as an innovative cheese producer with a strong relationship with their farmer suppliers and with a very skillful and experienced team. Their cheddars are undoubtedly of excellent quality, however we were looking for something more unique, a cheese which is more reflective of the seasons, the people and the place from which it originates.
‘Carbery produce their cheddars from a mix of milk collected from four farmer co-operatives across West Cork. Their cheeses for maturing are made almost entirely from the milk of cattle on pasture from spring until autumn ensuring high-quality milk.’
So to make a more distinct cheddar they wanted to narrow down the source of the milk, allowing it to better represent a specific geographical area and they chose Drinagh.
So when Drinagh Cheddar is produced the milk from these farms is kept separate and is the only milk used in the manufacturing.
The plan going forward is to produce two seasonal cheeses each year, one using spring or early summer milk and one using autumn milk to reflect the changing seasons of the West Cork landscape.
Kevin Sheridan of famed Sheridan’s Cheesemongers was very much part of the Simply Better team creating the West Cork Co-op Drinagh Cheddar. The recipe for the cheddar is a more traditional one than is mostly used in modern cheddar, giving a more savoury flavour which develops slowly over a long maturation.
‘With the introduction of Simply Better’s West Cork Co-Op Extra Mature Drinagh Cheddar we wish to bring to our customers an Irish cheddar of character and honest provenance with a flavour and texture which reflects the great skill and craft of Irish cheesemaking,’ concluded Dunnes Stores.
Pauline and Brendan, who are parents of four, added: ‘We’re big cheese fans anyway but all of us, especially the kids, really love it.’
Jason Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer, Carbery Group said they delighted to have worked over the past two years on the development of West Cork Co-Op Extra Mature Drinagh Cheddar Cheese.
‘Our cheesemakers were delighted to have had the opportunity to work and collaborate with Dunnes Simply Better, Ambassador, Neven Maguire and their cheese expert, Kevin Sheridan, who have both been key players in the development of this product. It has through hard work and dedication that we have perfected this recipe and we hope Dunnes Stores’ customers enjoy it as much as we believe they will. It is one of those products that once you taste it, you will buy it again and again.’